Charter school still closed after 2 months

HOUSTON The doors at Alphonso Crutch Charter School are locked, the halls are empty and the property looks like Hurricane Ike hit just yesterday.

While other schools have been back in session for two months now, Crutch hasn't started, which means Dasia Carter and her sisters have just been sitting at home.

"Bored -- all we can do is watch TV," Carter said.

Viewers may remember the school from a series of 13 Undercover investigations. There was questionable spending on lingerie, questionable attendance and poor student performance -- all at a school with one of the highest paid superintendents in the state.

Eight years and a number of legal battles later, Dasia's mother, Aretha Young, said administrators promised they would be back after summer once again. Young has been patient, she said, because her daughters have thrived there.

"The school is a good school," she said. "I want to know when they're going to start school. When are they going to start classes?"

The Texas Education Agency said the school still holds a charter. The problem is money. Because of various audit findings, TEA said it's withholding $450,000 in federal funding until the school sends documentation that money it has gotten has been spent properly.

''We have complied with everything that TEA has asked us to do," said Minister Robert Muhammad, the school board chairman.

Muhammad said the state could release the funds tomorrow, but believes now it's personal.

"We are the only charter school in TEA's history where they tried to revoke our charter and lost," he said. "They have not stopped since."

The ones who are caught in the middle are the students, although all parties agree it's time for them to find another school.

"I just hate they waited this long because they've missed a whole semester," Young said. "How do you make up for a whole semester?"

Even if Alphonso Crutch gets the federal funding, TEA said the school owes them $700,000. That's money that was overpaid when its actual attendance fell short of its estimated attendance.

Muhammad said the school will continue to fight for funding and hopes students return when it re-opens.

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