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A3 students uneasy about district revoking charter after school principal's suicide

Students at the Academy of Arts and Academics in Springfield plan to protest the Springfield School District's decision to revoke A3's charter on June 30. (SBG)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Students at the Academy of Arts and Academics in Springfield plan to protest the Springfield School District's decision to revoke A3's charter on June 30.

The School District announced Monday that it will dissolve A3's current governing board, transferring decision making, governance authority and oversight of the program to the Springfield School District.

The announcement comes after A3's late principal Michael Fisher was accused of sexually abusing a former student, starting more than a decade ago.

Fisher was placed on administrative leave at the end of January; he took his own life the following day.

"School's been hectic with emotions, people processing. Everybody is taking this a different way," said A3 junior Zach Thompson.

Thompson is on the A3 student council. He said he is concerned about A3 losing its charter.

"I came here to be a part of something different that's not just the traditional education system," Thompson said.

A3's charter emphasizes small-group, performance-based learning centered around the arts. Thompson said they call their teachers by their first names and grading is done differently.

"It's proficiency-based instead of accuracy. What that means is, it's not about the answer. It's how you came to the answer, along with the answer," Thompson said.

Now, students like Thompson are worried that could all change once they lose their charter in June. The Springfield School District says it is too early to know exactly what the school will look like next year or how employees will be affected.

A3 students are planning a silent protest Friday afternoon.

At 3:30 p.m. students will march from the Wildish Theater to the district office where they will voice their concerns.

Thompson said he hopes the community will join them.

"That's what this school is all about, is community," Thompson said. "And I feel like if we don't have the way it's run now, it's not going to be about community and about helping the world. It's just going to be about learning and about going into the world."

Students are also concerned for their classmates living outside of the Springfield School District. In order to continue their education at A3 next year, those students will need to complete an open enrollment transfer. That paperwork is due April 1.

The public is invited to submit questions or comments to A3Transition@springfield.k12.or.us

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