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      Charter school officials taking their fight to court

      Attorney Kirby Shealy is representing Hope Academy.

      Officials with one Charter School are challenging Richland School District Two in court. Last year, officials with Hope Academy were denied their request to open a school in Richland County. Organizers with the academy say they meet the state's Charter School standards, but are still being shut out.

      In court on Wednesday, was a small group anticipating big changes. Parents and school officials of the proposed Hope Academy, want a judge to reverse an earlier decision from the Richland School District Two, which denied the academy.

      "Their argument is if we check the box, then we get a charter," said attorney Michael Montgomery.

      Montgomery represents the School District and says the Charter School would operate with taxpayer money, and for now there are too many unanswered questions on how the funds would be used.

      Attorney Kirby Shealy, representing Hope Academy is fighting back. He says the charter school does have an economically sound plan.

      "We also have a substantial surplus in our proposed budget," said Shealy.

      Both Michael Letts and Stephen Gilchrist with the Charter School are hoping the judge will soon allow the academy to set up shop.

      "We are very optimistic of what the outcome will be," said Letts. "And that the parents in District two will have a choice as to whether they will send their children to a Charter School."

      "We believe that this further provides an opportunity for parents to identify more creative ways to be able to educate our students," said Gilchrist.

      The judge has the final say on whether or not Hope Academy meets the mandated requirements to move forward.