Charter School Graduate Sounds Off On Closing

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Update July 15, 2014

It was set up for the worst of the worst.

Capital City High closed its doors after the Leon County School Board threatened to revoke its charter.

Joshua Blanton, 19, recently graduated from Capital City High.

Four years ago, that prospect was a long shot at best.

After several fights, he was expelled from Rickards High School.

About the same time, he admits he threw a molotov cocktail at a police car.

He was convicted as an adult on three felony charges and faced the prospect of years in prison.

Now four years later after his Capital City experience, he has dreams of owning his own businesses.

"They mentored me, they took a lot of time out for me, the teachers, there was a lot of one on one communication," Blanton said.

"Every young man or woman that I mentored has the potential to be my children's doctor or their drug dealer," said Tallie Gainer, Blanton's mentor.

But after two years of serving roughly 300 students, graduating 70, Capital City High is now closed.

Principal Alex Penn said Leon County Schools administrators lowered the number of students Capital City could take and set a firm deadline for enrollment.

"When you serve at risk youth, you have to be open to enrollment at any time of the school year," Penn said.

"We did say we will set that enrollment, but you can continue to take students that we approve," said Leon County Schools Administrator Bev Owens.

Owens says Penn agreed to those conditions as part of the charter agreement Penn wrote.

Owens also says Capital City High had money problems and well over 200 truant students.

The school system also already has the Success Academy and Second Chance Schools at the Ghazvini Center serving that same at risk population and clearly never wanted Capital City.

"Success Academy and Second Chance only can hold but so many kids," Blanton said.

He also says the school closing means more young people will be out on the streets.

Duane Strong applied to be a student at Capital City High.

He was killed recently in a police shooting outside of Cheeks Nightclub.

A charter school in downtown Tallahassee is closing its doors.

Capital City High advertises itself as a tuition free public charter school.

The school has been a place where some troubled students can get a second chance at an education.

The school's leader Alexandra Penn says Capital City High will have its final graduation on Saturday.

She also tells us there's an ongoing effort to relocate underclassmen to other schools.

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