Charter School Battles Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Over 10 Year Lease Agreement

VERITAS Community School is fighting with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools over a 10 year contract they signed just a few months ago.

According to school administrators, the charter school has already spent thousands of dollars to install fire sprinklers and carry out other upgrades so students can move in next month. But now, CMS says it needs the property back for its own students.

Because of that, construction has come to a halt at the building formally known as Villa Heights Elementary School in East Charlotte.

"We have not even finished putting in the sprinklers to the building. We've spent over $100,000 dollars," said VERITAS founder Katy Ridnluer.

The brand new charter school was set to move in mid-December. But now, the future of the charter school is in question.

“When all is said and done, VERITAS will be out $80,000 dollars. That's two teacher salaries that will be gone," said Ridnluer.

CMS board of education will decide Tuesday night whether or not to get rid of the agreement, but it won't be without a fight from charter school staff and parents.

"I think they went into this agreement thinking this is a way for the building to be brought up to code at the expense of VERITAS. That's why tomorrow night, our parents and community members will show up in force to say no to terminate this agreement," said Ridnluer.

CMS board member Eric Davis says he doesn't know which way he'll vote Tuesday night, but says his first duty is to Charlotte-Mecklenburg students.

"We need to make the decision that's right for our students' academic needs given our fiduciary responsibility to the tax payer, more than to any particular tenant," said Davis.

Not only that, but Davis says CMS is completely within its legal right to terminate the lease.

"All of our leases have a termination clause. If we give notice by November, we can take possession of the property by July of the following year," said Davis.

If the school board votes to end its lease with the charter school, VERITAS leaders tell me that's not the end. They'll then go to county commissioners to plead their case on behalf of their 100 students.

Villa Heights Elementary School - the building in question - closed in 2011.

If the school board agrees to terminate the lease with VERITAS, CMS is considering opening up an academy for at risk students from Garinger high school.

For more information, click here for the CMS agenda item.