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Single-gender charter schools closing this month

All-girls, all-boys schools served 350 6th- through 12th-grade students

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Parents of children attending two single-gender middle/high school charter schools were told Thursday that they will close over the December break due to lack of enrollment and funding.

Virtue Arts and Science Academy, serving sixth- through 12th-grade girls, and Valor Academy of Leadership, an all-boys middle/high school, will not reopen in January.

The two schools served about 350 students on their two campuses.

Earlier this year, the Duval County School Board questioned Profectus Learning Systems, which runs the schools, about financial problems. The decision to close the schools was made at a board meeting Wednesday evening and a letter was sent to out to notify parents. 

READ: Letter notifying parents of school closures

"After community input, the board concluded that the schools did not have sufficient funds to continue operating past the end of the 2016 calendar year, and made the unanimous decision to surrender the schools' charters," the letter reads in part.

Nearly a dozen parents of students at both single-gender schools told News4Jax that they feel heartbroken, saying their children excelled not only academically, but on a personal level as well. 

"My daughter said yesterday there were quite a few people crying, a lot of the teachers," said Tessa Barnes, whose daughter attends Virtue Arts and Science and Academy. "It's disappointing because the program seems to be working and doing what it was needed to do."

Tiffany Hayden and her son, Taurean, a seventh-grader at Valor Academy, said they were devastated to learn that his charter school will be closing at the end of the semester. 

"I was sad because I love the school. It's taught me how to make friends. It's taught me how to learn new stuff, how to behave, how to have manners," Taurean said. 

Hayden said she received another letter in November from the school, easing parents' minds that rumors of the school closing were not true. She said that letter made Thursday's news evening more unexpected. 

"He's happy to go to school. Before, he wasn't so happy," Hayden said. "He runs out the car before I even stop the car. So it's shocking that they're closing and it's sad because he learned a lot."

Hayden and her son will discuss options, but she said they'd like to find another charter school for him to attend.

"(I'm) looking for people that will understand, help me understand stuff," Taurean said. "(I'm) looking for another school just like this one."

The last day Valor and Virtue academies will be open is Dec. 21. The schools will have an open enrollment session this month when parents can ask questions and enroll their children in a new school. The Duval County School District reminded parents it is also available to help parents find the best new school for their children.