Education

Veritas withdraws hearing request, moves to compromise with CMS

Veritas supporters held signs asking the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board to “Honor your Commitment” as founder Katy Ridnouer tried Nov. 10 to fight lease termination.
Veritas supporters held signs asking the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board to “Honor your Commitment” as founder Katy Ridnouer tried Nov. 10 to fight lease termination. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Veritas Community School has withdrawn its request for an appeal hearing in front of Mecklenburg County commissioners, signaling a possible end to the charter school’s feud with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools over a vacant building.

In an email Wednesday, Veritas’ lawyer Nicole Gardner told County Attorney Marvin Bethune that commissioners’ decision to delay a public hearing between CMS and Veritas gave both sides time to “arrive at the broad strokes of an agreement that we believe is in the best interest of both parties.”

Both sides are still in talks but feel optimistic a compromise is imminent, Gardner said.

Commissioners last week agreed to postpone the hearing – which would have resembled a civil trial with witnesses, evidence and testimony – but warned they would call a special meeting Dec. 15 if the dispute wasn’t settled by Thursday.

Veritas’ founder Katy Ridnouer used an untested state law to appeal to commissioners after the CMS school board voted 7-2 last month to back out of a lease that would have provided the empty Villa Heights Elementary School rent-free for 10 years.

CMS said it wants to use the building as an alternative school for Garinger High students who have fallen behind. Veritas, which has operated inside a church since its August opening, wants it as a school for its 100 kindergarten through third-grade students.

The back-and-forth played out for weeks in emails, letters and closed-door meetings that included challenges to the county’s authority to referee the dispute and threats of a lawsuit. Calls to Gardner and CMS general counsel George Battle were not returned Wednesday evening.

Jonathan McFadden: 704-358-6045, @JmcfaddenObsBiz

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