The school closed its doors for good at the end of May, its demise brought on in part because of a rocky relationship with property owner Cross and Crown Lutheran Church.
Mayo, the principal there the past four years, said he and staff members are still trying to come to terms with what has transpired.
“It’s very heartbreaking because we have such a family atmosphere here,” Mayo said. “It hurts. It’s like someone in your family passed away.”
Cross and Crown School officials once presided over a diverse student body of 76 second through fourth graders and eight teachers. Now, the administrators and staffers are all that remain — at least until July 31, when they officially have been ordered to leave the premises on the Chamblee Dunwoody Road location.
The school incorporated as a separate entity from the church while maintaining residency there.
The historically strained ties between the two were severed when the Cross and Crown school board opted to cease operations rather than agree to certain conditions sought by the church late last year. Those terms included the latter having a majority vote on the school board and the school’s acceptance of a commercial lease and a name change, Mayo said.
“It comes down to the fact that if level heads would’ve been able to just sit down and have a discussion and meet somewhere in the middle, this could have been avoided,” said Mayo. “But, the church [made it clear] there were non-negotiable items.”
Efforts to raise funds for the school’s relocation expenses — enough to cover lease payments and build-up costs — were ultimately unsuccessful.
Cross and Crown church leadership declined to comment on the matter, issuing a statement by their attorney instead.
“The dispute between the parties is a matter of public record in numerous court filings and the Church has no public comment on that dispute,” the statement read. “Several weeks ago the School Board made the decision to cease operations.
“The Church has begun exploring options for alternative uses of the space previously occupied by the school and plans to use that space to serve the surrounding community.”
In the meantime, Mayo and his staff of 15 are in the process of shutting down the school and liquidating its assets while looking for new jobs.
Still, Mayo acknowledged that his mind is never far from the plight of the youngsters who until recently breathed life into the aesthetically unpleasant yet harmonious facilities there.
“In a small school like this, [students] are like brothers and sisters,” he said. “It’s quite a tragedy … we grieve not only for ourselves, but also for the kids.”