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Laura Arredondo feared her shy son would get lost in a sea of students at a large school, so when it came time to enroll him at a middle school four years ago, she beelined for Stony Point Academy, a small charter opening in the Bellevue Union School District in south Santa Rosa.

“It’s a good school,” she said of the school that serves about 200 students in grades 7 through 11. Arredondo noted the small class sizes that allow teachers to dedicate more time to her son, who now is going into his junior year. “The teachers are excellent. They care about the students.”

But now Arredondo worries about the future of the charter that sits on the Meadow View Elementary campus after public comments made Monday by district trustees raising the possibility it could be shuttered.

Board president Victor Ayala, in addressing the need for additional portable classrooms, suggested closing the expanding charter school, which opened in mid-2013 with just seventh grade and has been adding a grade level each year.

“Little by little, it’s taking more space from Meadow View … Maybe we should close Stony Point,” Ayala said at the meeting, where he also complained about “inappropriate” and “very heavy” cursing on campus by the older charter students.

“As I said before, and I’m not afraid of saying it again, let’s start getting rid of SPA. At this point it’s more headaches than anything else,” he said. “I’ve seen those children’s behavior. They should be thankful I’m not their father.”

Ayala seemed to find support in at least one fellow board member Monday, but there was no action taken that night.

“I don’t know much about Stony Point School and kids that go there, but to put it bluntly, I think it’s a stupid spot for a school,” said Joy Bruce, who was elected to the board this past fall.

The next night, after word of the comments had been spread by school administrators, concerned parents, students and school supporters packed Tuesday’s regularly scheduled school board meeting to press for clarification. Under the pressure, Ayala appeared to backpedal from his earlier remarks and deny his involvement in calling for the closure.

“I want to clarify to people there is a very strong rumor that people are saying we’re going to close Stony Point Academy. I want to emphasize the fact that this is a lie,” he said to parents in Spanish. “There are no plans to close any school.”

In a phone interview Wednesday, Ayala, who has been on the board since 2014, said he doesn’t plan to press for closure of the school despite his earlier stance.

“Yeah, I said it. Sometimes you say stuff you didn’t mean,” he said. “I’m not attempting to close Stony Point Academy. I apologize for giving the wrong impression.”

He said his comments stem from concern of the condition of the school’s portable classrooms, which he called “a piece of junk.”

“If parents want to put their kids in decaying portables, that’s their choice,” Ayala said, adding that the school was poorly planned. “I want a real school, not portables.”

The Bellevue Union district is predominantly Latino and serves one of the most disadvantaged areas in Sonoma County. About 90 percent of the charter school students come from low-income families, Superintendent Alicia Henderson said.

Land the district purchased north of Meadow View for $300,000 was slated for the growing charter school. However, the school had to hold off on moving there after California tiger salamanders, an endangered species, were found on the site.

Bruce, the other trustee who voiced some skepticism about the future of the charter, declined Tuesday to elaborate on her comments. At the meeting that evening, she sat quietly as parents and students stepped forward to urge board members to keep the school open.

“This is in response to the audio (recording) from last night’s special meeting,” Principal Lisa Katimbang said, noting unusually high turnout of students and their families. Katimbang and staff members reached out to parents after learning about the remarks at Monday’s special meeting.

She said it would be a “disservice to the community” to close the school. “This school was something the community was looking for because our families wanted more options,” she said.

Katimbang said she’s worried about where the students would go if the extended-day school closed. Students would likely enroll at Cook Middle School or Elsie Allen High School in the Santa Rosa school district.

Those options aren’t the best fit for students Enrique Luna and sisters Marlen and Andrea Chavez.

“I don’t want to move to a big school,” said Luna, 15, who will be a Stony Point junior. “I look forward to graduating from this school.”

The Chavez sisters said they appreciate the small classrooms, which allow teachers to dedicate more time to them. The school also focuses on college and career readiness, said Andrea Chavez, 13. As an eighth-grader, she said she already knows where she wants to go to college: New York University.

“In the community that we’re in, we don’t have these opportunities,” said Marlen Chavez, 16. She will be a Stony Point junior this fall.

Henderson, the outgoing district superintendent, who oversaw launch of the school, said she wants it to continue. While it’s still a institution with “significant” needs, it’s seen academic improvements, she said.

“The charter has consistently increased their (state) test scores. It still remains a first choice for parents in the neighborhood,” said Henderson, who’s leaving her post at the end of the month to take a job in Washington state.

At Tuesday’s meeting, she urged families to challenge any plans for closure. She said the charter school contract is in place for the next four years, unless the school board decides to void it.

“The only way the school can close is if this school board takes action to close it, and you stay quiet,” she said.

Arredondo said she remains uneasy, despite Ayala disavowing his public remarks about shuttering the school.

“I’m still worried they’ll close it,” Arredondo said. “We’re going to continue going to the meetings.”

You can reach Staff Writer Eloísa Ruano González at 707-521-5458 or eloisa.gonzalez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @eloisanews.