The COVID-19 pandemic and leadership changes have forced the private Crisman School in Longview to shut down Oct. 30 for the rest of the school year.

Crisman board member Latricia Malone said board members decided to close the school because there was not enough income to keep it open.

The school serves students in prekindergarten through eighth grade who need special education services, she said. Some of those needs could be attention deficit disorder, dyslexia or autism.

The hope is for the school to reopen in fall 2021 with new administration, branding and teachers, Malone said.

About 14 students were enrolled this year compared with about 40 in a typical year, she said. The nonprofit school relies solely on tuition.

Some parents decided to homeschool or send their children elsewhere because they could not afford tuition during the COVID-19 pandemic, Malone said.

A leadership change also caused issues for the school, she added. Former Head of School Laura Lea Blanks, who had been at Crisman for about 10 years, resigned in September.

“That left the teachers to run the school, which had some difficulties,” she said. “Someone needs to oversee the day-to-day activities. If (the school) reopened in the fall, it would be with a new head of school.”

One of the children at the school is Malone’s daughter, Landri, 9, who has attended Crisman since she was 4.

Landri has some ADD and sensory sensitivities, Malone said. Being in classes that have only about eight to 10 students helped Landri perform better in school.

“That’s why she thrived in that environment, because there were limited distractions and she had a specialized teacher that could help her to learn just by spending more one-on-one time with her,” Malone said. “They make revisions to the modalities of teaching and learning so these kids are not so overwhelmed as in the public school system.”

Crisman celebrated its golden anniversary in 2019. The school was founded in 1969 by Jo Nan Johnson as The Windmere School, and the campus within Winterfield United Methodist Church moved to its home on Eastman Road in 1983.

The 9-acre campus and building were donations of board member O. Wayne Crisman, who became the namesake of Crisman Preparatory School, which was officially renamed The Crisman School.

“Crisman teaches twice-exceptional students with asynchronous development to be successful academically, socially and emotionally,” Blanks said in a May 2019 News-Journal story. “Our children are brilliant. ... One of the things we say is, every child is smart in their own way, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, he will spend his whole life thinking he’s a failure.”

Kristen is the News-Journal's education reporter. A Longview native, she got a journalism degree and a graduate certificate at Texas Tech University. She covers a variety of issues, including school finance, board meetings and happenings at local schools.