12/01/04 — Charis Prep approved as a school

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Charis Prep approved as a school

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on December 1, 2004 2:00 PM

With the school year nearly half over, a private school that was shut down in September by Goldsboro building inspectors has been cleared to operate.

Charis Prep was established over the summer and operates at Abundant Life Fellowship on Sheridan Forest Road. It opened without the required certification from the state, which could have meant the parents would be charged because their children were considered truant. The county school system, however, did not seek those charges.

Carlos Peralta, minister at the church and the school's administrator, opened the school on Sept. 7 in Goldsboro and at that time had 67 students enrolled in grades 1 through 12.

Peralta had operated the school without a building inspection, and Goldsboro's chief building inspector, Ed Cianfarra, ordered that the school be shut down because of building code violations.

Cianfarra visited the school again on Nov. 21, and the building was approved as a school and given a certificate of occupancy. Goldsboro Fire Inspector David Lancaster and the county Health Department also approved the building.

The school then applied to the state Division of Non-Public Education for approval. The division visited before Thanksgiving and determined everything was legal, said Rod Helder, director for the division.

Helder said the only thing Peralta has to do now is administer an achievement test by the end of the school year to students in grades 3, 6, 9 and 11.

Helder's division keeps a county-by-county list of the non-public schools. Charis Prep is not on the list yet because the list is not produced until June of each year. It will be on the new list in June, he said.

State officials had said in September that the school had not taken the proper steps to abide by state regulations. State law says that if an unapproved school is discovered -- usually reported by the public school system of the county in which the school is located -- the school's administrators are not held liable under the law. But the parents of the students would be in violation of a law that requires all parents to send their children to a state-approved school. That is a misdemeanor.

Kristy Fair, public relations officer for the Wayne County Public School System, said Dr. Steven Taylor, school superintendent, has spoken with Peralta and he told Taylor that he had everything in order. Taylor said he was not interested in pursuing any action against the parents.