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Mosley announces closure of high school program, catching some, including school board members, off guard

CRA at Mosley's sign
Ben Schachtman
CRA at Mosley's sign

On Friday, parents of high school students at the Career Readiness Academy at Mosley received a letter informing them that the high school program is shuttering at the end of this school year. However, the school will continue to serve the current PreK and TPYA (transition program for young adults) students.

*Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include the comments from Vice Chair Pat Bradford.

This decision, affecting 63 students, came as a surprise to some in the community — and to some of the board members, as they were under the impression that eliminating Mosley's high school program was only in the planning stages.

Board member Stephanie Kraybill told WHQR, "At the Agenda Review meeting on Tuesday, November 28, we heard a report from Dr. Faison, NHCS Chief Academic Officer, on a proposed plan for a 'Newcomer School' at the Mosley campus. I was excited to learn about this potential opportunity for our students and their families. It was not clear to me as to what exactly was going to happen with the current Mosley high school students."

She added, "Dr. Faison mentioned that NHCS was working on student transition plans, and Dr. Barnes [of human resources] mentioned that no one would lose their jobs. When I attempted to ask more questions for clarity, time was called. I assumed we would be hearing more about the entire plan for Mosley at a later date. I was quite surprised to hear that parents were receiving letters that the Mosley model was changing next year."

Board Member Stephanie Walker said she was also unaware that the high school program was to be disbanded.

Vice Chair Pat Bradford added, "While I applaud solutions in addressing the rapidly growing NHCS multilingual student population challenges - 1,505 new students over 4 years who are not English speaking, more than 35% this last year, is a serious challenge that must absolutely be addressed - as far as I can ascertain, these were decisions made at the central office and superintendent level, not the board level."

Roughly 58% of the students at Mosley are economically disadvantaged, which statistically means many will face difficulties with their education. However, the school has seen its students improve in recent years.

According to recent data on the school, students have been meeting growth over the past two years — and were graduating at higher levels.

The school has received considerable resources and accolades, including a $866,000 federal grant through the Innovative Grant Partnership (IPG). The funding was spread over three years, with this year being its last. In 2021, it gained accreditation through Cognia, an organization that helps to improve schools' achievement levels.

In a statement, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Patrice Faison said that the high school portion of the school, “has been an underutilized space in our district for quite some time, and it's been an ongoing conversation for years about what to do about it, [d]espite our efforts to increase enrollment.”

At the board’s agenda review meeting, Faison did present the idea to the members that Mosley would become a ‘newcomer’ school for English as a second language (ESL) students, otherwise known as multilingual learners (MLs), but said this was “preliminary” and that no concrete plans had been made.

She said, however, that even though she discussed with the board a proposal to turn Mosley into this newcomer school earlier this week, “the plan to phase out the high school at that building was already in place.”

These ML students are increasing in the district. There are currently 504 of them this year; however, the proposed plan for this school would be for 3rd through 11th graders. Hypothetically, with the current 504 number, only 192 would qualify for the proposed school.

Year 1 = the 2023-2024 school year; Year 2 = 2023-2022
Year 1 = the 2023-2024 school year; Year 2 = 2023-2022

Faison said it would be a way for students and their families new to the country to get acclimated, and that they would likely matriculate back into the district’s other schools after attending for a year or less.

While the district is still debating how to best serve these ML students, the current Mosley high school students will hear from district representatives on Monday, December 4, to discuss this transition and their future options.

Faison said to WHQR, “We recognize of course that this is going to be a significant change for the students and their families. However, because it's such a small school we can be very individualized in how we help them transition. We will have a transition plan in place for all 52 underclassmen, whether they choose to attend one of our other specialty high schools or their districted school. We also have 15 dedicated staff members at the high school, and we are going to ensure they each find a new position in our district.”

List of staff currently serving Mosley students
List of staff currently serving Mosley students

In the new year, these Mosley high school students can apply for the district’s specialty high schools or programs. Those would be Isaac Bear (available only to 10th graders), Sea-Tech, Wilmington Early College, Ashley’s Marine Science, Hoggard’s IB (International Baccalaureate), Laney’s STEM, or New Hanover’s Lyceum programs.

The deadline for these applications is February 2.

Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR