SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A San Jose charter school that has twice been awarded one of the state’s top academic honors is now fighting to keep its doors open after the Franklin-McKinley School Board voted to not renew its charter.

“We would love to have the opportunity for the school district to reconsider their decision,” said Shara Hedge, the founder and first principal of Cornerstone Academy. “We have reached out and would whatever it takes to address their concerns.”

In a 3-2 vote, the school board decided at its October 22 meeting to not renew Cornerstone Academy’s charter and to terminate its lease at the end of the current school year. The decision left teachers, parents and students feeling blindsided.

“There’s a lot of things we’ve faced in our life. There’s a lot of things we’ve been through. And Cornerstone (Academy) has definitely been there for us. And for it to be shutting down, it’s just heartbreaking,” said eighth grader Bianka Mejia who part of the second class of students to enroll at the school when it first opened a decade ago.

The district cited under-enrollment of “Hispanic/Latino” and “special needs” students as the principal reason for not renewing Cornerstone’s charter. The district’s decision has left the school community reeling.

“There’s a lot of anger and fear and confusion as to, ‘If we do everything right as we’re taught to do, why can’t we keep the place that we love?'” said teacher Randrea Acda.

Cornerstone Academy has twice been designated a California Distinguished School — one of the highest honors the state can bestow on an academic institution.

The school’s leadership team says they plan to appeal the district’s decision to the County Board of Education.

“I keep telling students this is just a setback. We’re going to get through this. I want to give them hope,” said Lana Nguyen, the school’s Operations Manager.

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