WEST PALM BEACH — Amefika Geuka has learned to roll with the punches. That’s what he is doing once again as he learns that the state’s only African-centered public school, which he operates, will once again have to uproot its 170 students and move to a different location. The Joseph Littles-Nguzo Saba Charter School has had to move so many times that its hard to keep track of all its locations.
The space the school is currently renting from the School District of Palm Beach County, the former Roosevelt High School now known as the Roosevelt Full Service Center, is being slated for an all-boys school which, in part, will address the county’s efforts in educating African-American males.
The Roosevelt Leadership Academy for Young Men will be a choice school when it opens next fall. As a result Joseph Littles charter school will have to relocate by June 30, 2013. Geuka, who has operated on a year-to-year lease from the school district, was sent a reminder notice in October that he will have to move out.
Geuka says that he does not yet have a new location for the school. He has said in past interviews that the many relocations have contributed to the school’s struggles to gain a solid academic footing. The school has hovered around a “D” grade on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT. It once received a “C” grade but it has also once received an “F” grade.
Joseph Littles has been at its current location for about a year and a half. Prior to that, it was at a different school district facility briefly and has been located at a string of other facilities over the years. Its first location was at the Urban League of Palm Beach County building, then a couple of church properties.
The school district gives priority to its own programs in terms of locations and the use of facilities but does accommodate charter schools if space is available.
Geuka has long asserted that his school has been treated unfairly and with an attitude of indifference by the school district since its opening in 1999. He has said that the system is against his school which serves African-American students at the lowest end of the economic, academic and social ladder.
“There is no question we’re going against the grain,” he said. But he also said in an interview that the community is to blame for the school’s lack of support. “It’s not only the system; the black community should want to help these children,” he says. “We’re not hiding. It’s no secret that we’re here. People know our story. The bigger problem is the absence of racial self-esteem among African Americans.”
Ironically, it’s in large part because of the community that the new all-male school is being established in the building which Joseph Littles will have to vacate.
The building once housed the historic Roosevelt High School and the community feared it would be torn down by the school district. The building housed an alternative school until Joseph Littles moved in. To avoid the prospect of the school being torn down due to age and wear and tear, the community pushed for a prominent program to be housed in the building that would do justice to its legacy. That gave birth to the Roosevelt Leadership Academy for Young Men.
Debra Robinson, school board vice chairwoman, led the effort to create the all-boys school on behalf of the school district. Robinson, who has also been an advocate for the Joseph Littles charter, said the district is not pushing the beleaguered charter school aside. She said Joseph Littles was given enough advance notice that the building district will be needed for the 2013-14 school year.