Eighteen-year-old Resa Wynn has already overcome many obstacles. One of 15 children, she moved from her mother's home in Northwest Washington to her own apartment as a high school senior and worked in the principal's office after class to help pay the bills for herself and her toddler son.
Last month, Wynn was one of two students to graduate from the troubled Young Technocrats Math and Science Public Charter Laboratory School at First and T streets NE. But now the school has closed its doors, sunk by financial and administrative mismanagement the Board of Trustees said is so severe that it fired the school co-principals and decided not to try to reorganize it.
The closure has meant new troubles for Wynn. She, like many other employees of the school, is owed several paychecks. Also, Wynn says the school cannot find her diploma or transcript, which has hampered her efforts to apply to college.
She wants to attend Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., but she can't get final acceptance or financial aid without her transcript. Officials at the college have told her it is too late to apply for aid for the fall semester.
"I just want to know when I'm going to get my transcript, when I'm going to get my diploma, when I'm going to get my money," Wynn said. "I don't know what I'm going to tell my landlord."
Wynn said the other student she graduated with also hasn't been able to get his transcript. Some of the other 10 seniors, who were a few credits short of graduating, now fear they will have to repeat a full year or more because they have not received grades for the classes they took, she said.
George R. Carruthers, chairman of the Board of Trustees at Young Technocrats, said the skeletal staff left at the school is working to give Wynn and other former students what they need. He said the pay problems stem from a dispute between the board and the ousted principals about who controls school funds. "We're doing the best we can with the manpower that we have available," Carruthers said.
The 400-student school for pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students was founded last fall by co-principals Wali Williams and Maisha Washington, who previously operated a much smaller private school.
Carruthers said he and other board members did not realize how badly the school was being run until the D.C. Board of Education, which awarded the school its operating charter, proposed revoking the charter last month because of financial and classroom problems. The school board plans to formally revoke the charter at a meeting tomorrow afternoon.
Young Technocrats is the second of 20 D.C. charter schools to close since such schools first opened in the District in 1996. Charter schools are publicly financed but are run independently from the public school system.
About 50 Young Technocrats parents attended a recent meeting to get information about other charter schools where they might enroll their children this fall. Carruthers said he expects most of the other students will return to the neighborhood schools they attended before coming to Young Technocrats.
Staff members at the school are now sorting through records that were kept sloppily and full of errors, trying to get students the information they need, Carruthers said.
"It's just a matter of time," he said. "I definitely remember signing a diploma for Resa Wynn. I don't know where it is . . . but I know it exists."