JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A high-profile private K-12 school in the Arlington neighborhood of Jacksonville closed its doors Saturday, according to parents and an email they received from a school official. In the wake of the closure, other private schools in the area opened their doors this weekend to accept new students.
Rumors began flying Friday afternoon that Arlington Country Day School was shutting down. Parents flooded the News4Jax newsroom with calls about the shocking news.
On Saturday, parents received the following email from head of ACD Deborah Condit explaining the closure:
It is with a very sad heart that I inform you that ACD is closed as of 1/26/18. I speak for all the faculty and staff who will miss your children greatly. It has been an honor to serve you and to be trusted with your children.
Records requests can be sent to email@example.com. We will make every effort to make the transition to a new school a smooth one.
Field trip money will be refunded next week.
There are no words to convey how much we are saddened by this. Many of you have been part of the ACD family for years and we thank you and are very grateful for all your support and kindness.
The school has been a staple of the Arlington area for more than 60 years and gained notoriety in the late 2000s for its celebrated boys basketball program that garnered five consecutive state titles.
Arlington Country Day School’s enrollment has grown steadily over the years, with the most recent records showing it served more than 400 students annually. In 2010, the school expanded its student body by adding an international boarding component to attract students from around the world.
Parents such as Rachel Barrett are scrambling to find a new school for their child. Barrett said her daughter is being plucked out of a place she loves and had teachers who went above and beyond.
“She's very close to them, and they work one-on-one with them here and it's small classes,” Barrett said. “When we leave here, we aren't sure what we are going to get.”
Devonne Gaddy, who also has a student who went to ACD, echoed Barrett's sentiment.
“I'm angry at how it was handled," Gaddy said. "For me to call and (administrators) blatantly lie to me and tell me no, and then it is true?"
News4Jax spoke to ACD teacher Bob Bell. He said teachers weren't given any notice either. Bell said he would've taught for free until the school sorted out its issues.
"We don't teach for money, that's the truth," Bell said. "Our salaries are the last thing we are worried about. We were willing to come back and teach for free until we got this straightened out but we still have to operate and keep the lights on."
Bell said he's heartbroken by the closure.
“These were my kids, and I wish them all the best and I want them all to do well,” Bell said. “I want to tell all you parents and students I loved every one of you and hope to see you again.”
The Arlington Country Day School did not immediately return a request for comment.
Options for ACD students
There are some options for parents who need to find a new school for their students. Some area private schools opened Sunday to accept students. Others will be open through the week to enroll new students.
Duval County Public Schools released a statement Monday morning that the school district is providing special accommodations to enroll all K-12 students. Parents are asked to contact their neighborhood school or visit the DCPS School Choice Office at 1701 Prudential Drive from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for enrollment information. Or visit DuvalSchools.org/schoolchoice to review the schools that have availability.
Arlington Academy, 5900 Fort Caroline Road, will be accepting preschool through second-grade students Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Monday at 7 a.m. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 904-717-1590.
LaCore Christian Elementary, 8050-2 Lone Star Road is now accepting students for Kindergarten through 6th Grade. LaCore is open Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 904-894-4914.
Father's Harbor Academy, 4519 Beach Boulevard, is accepting Kindergarten through 12th-grade students. For more information, call 904-306-9579.
Impact Christian Academy will host an open house Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for enrollment and will accept walk-ins this week from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call ICA Director of Admissions and Marketing Dorothy Kennedy at 904-652-1441.
The Foundation Academy, 3675 San Pablo Road S. welcomes 3-12 grade students, K-2 is completely full. Fully accredited since 1988. STEAM focused education. Tours available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Call 904-493-7300 to schedule a visit with Admissions Director Tricia Nurse. Transportation available.
Esprit de Corps Center for Learning, 9840 Wagner Road, is accepting Kindergarten through 11th grade. Esprit de Corps is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information and to schedule a tour, call Ms. Emily Perry at 904-924-2000.
All 35 Catholic schools schools in Northeast Florida will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday for tours and information. They are happy to extend a welcome to Arlington Country Day School parents and students. For more information, contact Lesley Harvey at 904-813-9161.
Hope Christian Academy, 1824 Dean Road, is now enrolling K-12 and accepts scholarships. For more information, call 904-733-8777.
Promise Land Academy, 3990 Loretto Road, is a Christian-based private school currently enrolling students grades Kindergarten through 6th grade for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school year. They also accept Step Up for Students Scholarships. For more information on how to enroll, contact the school at 904-268-2422 or email Principal Robbin Jackson at email@example.com.
Cornerstone Christian Academy of Jacksonville, 9039 Beach Boulevard, started accepting preschool through 12th-grade students Saturday and will open again Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 904-730-5500. The CSJAX posted the following message on Facebook:
Cornerstone Christian School accepts students in Preschool thru 12th Grade and offers free transportation to many convenient areas in the Arlington Community. CCS accepts the Step-Up for Students and John McKay Scholarships. For more information visit csjax.org or call (904) 730-5500.
Cornerstone will open up our doors today from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for any parents and students that would like a tour of our facility and get a head start at transferring.