Terri Griffin made herself a promise when her youngest daughter was ready for kindergarten: the little girl would never set foot in an Akron public school. Griffin, an Akron jewelry store clerk who is a graduate of the Ohio city’s school system, had sent eight children–two of her own and six others she raised as her own–to traditional public schools, TIME reports. She felt they were pushed through to a diploma and didn’t learn enough. Teachers were eager to recommend special education, but Griffin couldn’t get them to provide other basic extra help. Two years ago when her youngest daughter was entering kindergarten, she sought out a charter school, Lighthouse Academy, and hoped for a better outcome. Griffin didn’t know about the Lighthouse Academy’s low test scores or that it had been identified by the state as being in an academic emergency on and off since opening in 2000. Instead, when she visited the West Akron school, Griffin saw caring teachers working with small classes in a school that was well established in the community. She hasn’t once regretted her decision…

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