Opening a Refugee School: Charles Foust, Patrice Faison Attempt to Usurp School Board
A policy situation is unfolding in New Hanover County Schools (NHCS). Senior administrators in the New Hanover school district are quietly rolling out a controversial plan to shutter an existing high school for special needs kids and then leverage that school’s resources to establish a program known as a “newcomers school.” Newcomers schools have been opening across the United States in recent years and are wholly designed to assimilate newly arrived refugee children and families. This refugee/asylee center will be the first publicly funded school of its kind in the Wilmington area.
Senior NHCS administrators independently chose to shut down the Career Readiness Academy at Mosley PLC (Mosley High School) to make way for a new 200+ student refugee school, a decision made without the knowledge or consent of the school board. During their agenda meeting on November 28, the board initially learned of the decisions to close Mosley and open the newcomer school several months into the Newcomers School implementation. It was at this meeting where Chief Academic Officer Patrice Faison stupefied the Board with a presentation on progress made and milestones already achieved in the project’s roadmap.
(Below) Presentation slide depicting the next steps of the newcomer school project, as presented by Dr. Patrice Faison, NHCS Chief Academic Officer.
What is a Newcomers School?
The term Newcomers School isn’t new in the education sector. It is a widely accepted euphemism to describe a taxpayer funded facility with its primary mandate to service refugee students and families. Typical services provided go well beyond academics. While newcomers schools are relatively new to North Carolina, newcomers schools across the U.S. typically provide free wraparound services to refugee families. Wraparound services often include language and cultural integration, tutoring, career counseling and vocational opportunities, mental health counseling, medical care, and legal assistance. All services are managed by the school and funded either by the taxpayer or non-profit groups.
What Does it Mean to ‘House’ Students?
During her presentation, Dr. Faison stated Mosley would ‘house’ refugee students. Does this imply more than just utilizing classroom spaces for educational purposes? Providing accommodation and boarding for refugees at schools is a real practice. For instance, the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro is offering on-campus living for refugees in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). And earlier this month, Madison High School in Brooklyn, New York, was used to provide temporary shelter for refugees. What exactly is Dr. Faison’s intention when she discusses the desire to ‘house’ refugee students and give wraparound support to their families?
(Video below) As Dr. Faison informs the New Hanover County School Board of a newcomer school for refugees, she mentions the idea to ‘house’ the students and provide wraparound services for their families. Runtime: 30sec.
(Videos below) January 9th, hundreds of refugees disembark from buses to take shelter at James Madison High School in Brooklyn, New York.
Madison High School Brooklyn NY
Migrants from Floyd Bennett Feild were moved into the HS due to weather conditions. Kids who attended the HS will now move to Remote schooling from home.
🎥 by @LeeroyPress
For licensing email [email protected] pic.twitter.com/0r5HzZMMsN
— Viral News NYC (@ViralNewsNYC) January 9, 2024
First group of migrants from Floyd Bennett field arrive at James Madison High School. Madison is a scan school where students get scanned upon entrance, but the migrants got to bypass that as per the NYPD. A lot of law enforcement and other agency resources have been poured into… pic.twitter.com/52kWetWRxA
— Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (@InnaVernikov) January 9, 2024
Revealed Under Questioning: The Unannounced Closure of Mosley High School and Its Impact on Special Needs Kids
During the question-and-answer segment of Dr. Faison’s presentation on the Newcomer School, School Board member Melissa Mason raised a question about the future of the current students at Mosley High School. It was at this point that Dr. Faison informed the Board for the first time that Mosley High School, the district’s only school designed for children with special learning needs, would be shuttered to accommodate a refugee school. Dr. Faison confirmed that Mosley High School students would be transferred to various other high schools across the district in order to make room for refugees.
Dr. Faison only acknowledged the closure of Mosley High School and the reassignment of its students to other schools when directly questioned by Mason. The revelation that this project had been in the works for months indicates that Superintendent Foust and other top administrators might have been concealing the closure from the Board.
(Video below) Dr. Faison informs the New Hanover County School Board for the first time about the planned closure of Mosley High School, along with the possible reassignment of its students and faculty to other district schools, to facilitate the accommodation of refugee students and parents. Dr. Barnes says the reassignment of faculty is a “theoretical” idea.
(Video below) Dr. Patrice Faison’s entire newcomers center presentation at the November 28, 2023 agenda board meeting. Runtime: 20:30
The Friday following the November 28th newcomers school presentation, Mosley’s principal sent out a letter stating the Mosley was closing, a timeline of the school’s closure and registration deadlines for other schools.
(Images below) The two-page letter addressed to parents of Mosley High School, advising them to enroll their children in another school in anticipation of Mosley’s permanent closure.
At December’s school board meeting, numerous students came forward to passionately appeal to speak up against the closure of Mosley High School. They made a case that Mosley offered them an educational environment and teaching approach that enabled them to learn and succeed — opportunities they found challenging to access in a conventional high school setting.
WECT News 6 Report on the Mosley High School Closure Prior to December Board Meeting
Before the December school board meeting, WECT News 6 offered a summary of the impending shutdown of Mosley High School. Notably, local media has not yet made a connection between the school’s closure and the presentation on the newcomer school.
(Video below) WECT News 6’s December 5, 2024 report on the closure of Career Readiness Academy at Mosley PLC.
(Video below) Distraught Mosley High School students appeal to the board, urging them not to close the school, as the board of education holds the final decision on its closure.
New Hanover County’s Hispanic/Latino Commission Holds Emergency Meeting
The New Hanover County Hispanic/Latino Commission, in response to the planned closure of Mosley High School, convened an emergency meeting the week before January’s School Board meeting. Penny Presley, NHCS Executive Director of Secondary School Support, was present to address concerns from county representatives and members of the commission. However, many attendees left the meeting unsatisfied because of Presley’s inability to answer basic questions, including who decided on the school’s closure.
(Video below) New Hanover County Hispanic/Latino Commission’s January 2024 meeting regarding Mosley High School’s shuttering. (video provided by attendee.) Runtime: 34:50
NHCS Community Pushback to Mosely Closing Continues to Gain Strength
During the January 2024 remote meeting of the New Hanover School Board, multiple residents left voicemail messages expressing their outrage about how Superintendent Foust and his team have tried to override the board’s authority. One resident called the school district administrators “rogue” when she stated:
“Dr. Foust, I now understand why you said the Constitution wasn’t written for you. It was written to protect us from government officials who act like you. You and Faison are rogue employees who far overstepped your authority, disrespected our elected board members, and worked against the best interests of our students by working on a newcomer program for immigrants without informing the Board.”
(Video below) Resident Diane Zaryki calls Dr. Foust and Dr. Faison ‘rogue’ employees.
(Video below) Rachel Hladik, mother of Mosley High School student, says she cannot find a comparable alternative school for her son after being asked to register her child at another school for the next school year.