Former AHA art teacher Amy Johnson said she spoke with a representative from the school who told her that it is currently closed, but that administrators were hopeful the private school can reopen for the 2012-13 school year.
Johnson said she contacted AHA about a month ago in an effort to liquidate her 401(k) when she asked the representative about the current status of the school. She was unable to confirm whether the person she spoke with was a current employee of American Heritage Academy.
On May 16, the Holly Springs City Council approved a conditional use permit to allow the Canton private school to begin meeting at New Life Worship Center, as the former location at 2126 Sixes Road is in use by Cherokee Charter Academy.
However, Pastor Clint Claypoole of New Life Worship Center confirmed that his church would be moving forward without American Heritage Academy being housed on the church’s campus for the 2011-12 school year.
“We still have families calling about their children’s transcripts,” said Claypoole, adding that he hopes to clear up any confusion about the church’s involvement with the school after receiving phone calls within the last month from AHA parents.
“From what I understand, they were not able to bring all the elements together to launch for this school year,” Claypoole said.
Claypoole said that communications between the church and school administrators “fell off drastically” in August — even though the school was scheduled to begin later that month — and that relations were almost scarce in September.
After the lack of correspondence, he and other New Life members made the decision internally to end collaborative efforts with the school. Claypoole said that it was in the best interest of his church to continue to move forward and no longer consider the option of working with American Heritage Academy.
“We needed to move on and continue,” he said.
Near the end of the 2010-11 school year, a committee of parents determined that AHA would need 164 students to enroll in order to break even for the 2011-2012 school year.
“If these conditions are not met,” the parent committee wrote in a report, “American Heritage Academy will finish out the 2010/2011 school year and its contractual obligations, and then close its doors.”
But when that enrollment number was not reached, Scott Parrish, president of the school’s Board of Directors, sent a letter to parents stating that 120 students would be an adequate enrollment for the following school year.
On June 2, the penultimate day of the last school year, Parrish sent an email to parents stating that the school had moved from the exploratory stage to an “open enrollment” phase. Parrish planned to reopen the school with several detailed stipulations that included retaining smaller class sizes and limiting enrollment.
Parrish did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Former AHA parent committee member Randy Hymel said that he didn’t know of any parents still involved with the school.
“As soon as we realized the parent committee was not getting cooperation, together we all decided it was time (to leave),” said Hymel.
On March 11, American Heritage Academy was advertised in the Cherokee Tribune under foreclosure by Manufacturers and Traders Trust Co. The advertisement indicated the not-for-profit private school was $12 million in debt.
For the past several weeks, officials with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Council on Accreditation and School Improvement have been unable to contact school administrators regarding the school’s status.
“We are trying to figure out if the school has moved,” said Jennifer Oliver with AdvanceEd, the international registry for accreditation. “The last correspondence we had with the school was back in the spring.”
Oliver added that the school has been billed for accounting fees for the 2011-12 school year but has not yet paid.
The academy, which previously served 325 pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students, is scheduled for a five-year accreditation visit in 2012, one of the reasons why SACS is trying to contact school officials.
“If we are not able to reach them … and fees are not paid, they will be dropped for lack of payment,” said Oliver.
According to the SACS website, American Heritage Academy was last accredited on Dec. 31, 2002. That accreditation is set to expire on June 30, 2012, and will remain so unless SACS officials receive a response from the school.
American Heritage Academy’s phone number no longer works and its website www.AHAcademy.com has been taken offline. AHA’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since April 14.