School District of Collier County seeks to save Mason Classical Academy

At a packed board meeting Thursday, the School District of Collier County leaders were supposed to discuss whether to close down Mason Classical Academy, leaving hundreds of students with nowhere to go.

Charisse Christensen is a believer in Mason Classical Academy. She sends her five kids there.

“It would be absurd to take 900 children and however many families that is, say a month before school,” Christensen said. “Now, you have to go to a school you didn’t want to go to.”

Christensen joined with many other Mason parents who feared the Collier County School Board planned to shut the academy down Thursday after seeing a notice on a building door.

“It puts us further in a position of uncertainty,” said Yuliya Lucarelli, a parent, “and whether or not we need to be looking for a different school.”

But the school board members soon made it clear, they intend to save the school.

“I do think it was a mistake the way the agenda read,” said Stephanie Lucarelli, Collier County Public Schools vice-chair.

In June, WINK News uncovered a report by Jon Fishbane, the board’s special counsel. In the report, Fishbane criticized the academy’s leadership, accusing the administrators of a lack of financial oversight, Sunshine Law violations and mismanagement.

“What I would like to do is see the leadership there get on board with following state statute and following the accountability methods in place, said Jen Mitchell, Collier County Public Schools board member.

Kelly Lichter, Mason’s president, did not get to the meeting. But she told us over the phone the report creates the wrong impression.

“Unfortunately, their actions have caused a lot of damage,” Lichter said. “I look forward to resolving any unresolved issues.”

“When it comes down to it it is about the kids,” Christensen said. “Everyone does agree its a great school academically.”

Reporter:Hannah Vogel
Writer:Michael Mora
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