Code concerns could close Christian school in Wake Forest

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) - Nearly two dozen children may not have a school to return to Monday morning.

A small Christian academy in Wake Forest is at risk of not opening its new doors after going back and forth with town officials over the building code.

Parents, academy leaders and local clergy demonstrated at Wake Forest's town hall Friday, hoping for some saving grace from officials.

The day was also Rising Star Christian Academy's last in its temporary facility.

The school was forced out of its old space in July when a new owner bought the building.

Academy leaders found a new location on Hampton Way, a former dentist's office.

"We began to get an architect involved - that got involved and drew up plans," explained Roxanne Knight, founder and president of the academy, which has been around for 14 years.

Town officials say they approved the academy's permit back in October for the new location, but they also say the school never met state code requirements.

According to authorities, the facility needs a two-hour fire wall, specific exits and other conditions.

"We sympathize with Ms. Knight and her efforts to help the children in the community, but at the end of the day we have to protect the lives of the children," Wake Forest's Director of Inspection J.J. Carr said.

Knight said she believes the issue is that the town has the wrong set of designs, which would mean different state requirements.

"Well, I do feel like we've been treated unfairly, and I'm not sure why," she told CBS North Carolina's Beairshelle Edmé.

Knight is asking for a 30-day temporary permit so the academy can hold classes Monday, as planned, and complete the work the town says is needed.

Single dad Terry Hart said he sees no problem with that request.

"I know my son is being taken care of there," Hart said. "I know he's safe and I can afford it."

But town leaders say there's no dodging the law and state codes.

Knight said she's unsure what's next: "Right now, we don't know and that's why we're out here trying to be heard because we don't have a plan B."

The school has a fundraising page here.

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