Four charter schools cited for poor academic performance undergo review
Posted January 11, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — The state’s Charter Schools Advisory Board reviewed improvement plans Monday for four schools at risk of having their charters revoked due to poor academic performance.
Board members said they were pleased with plans from three of the schools – Rocky Mount Preparatory School in Rocky Mount, North East Carolina Preparatory School in Tarboro, and Phoenix Academy in High Point – which all sent representatives to Monday's meeting.
The schools are not in the clear yet. The advisory board plans to follow their progress and make a recommendation about their charter status this summer.
The fourth school, Oxford Preparatory School in Oxford, provided an improvement plan that doesn't have much meat, according to some of the board members, and the school failed to send a representative to Monday's meeting.
Although the school's presence at the meeting was not required, some board members said they were disappointed and have asked Oxford Prep to be at the advisory board's next meeting in February.
In an email to WRAL News on Monday, Oxford Prep executive director Andrew Swanner wrote that school administrators listened to the board's live stream of the meeting and were surprised to hear that the schools were allowed to speak.
"When we asked the Office of Charter Schools in advance, we were told that we would not be able to present or answer questions today," Swanner wrote. "Unfortunately, that was not the only communication breakdown from the Office of Charter Schools on this matter."
"Based on the feedback from the (advisory board) during our presentation in November, we began improving our strategic plan," Swanner wrote, noting that his school missed the December deadline to provide an updated plan due to a "communication breakdown" with the state Office of Charter Schools.
"We responded with our updated strategic plan and explanation within 24 hours, even though we would preferred more time considering the timing," Swanner wrote. "We are more than willing to address any specification questions the (advisory board) has and provide them with additional detailed information as needed. We take their request very seriously and have been implementing a variety of strategies that should yield improved academic results."
All four of the charter schools were warned last fall that they were failing to meet academic standards. The schools submitted plans to the state Office of Charter Schools in December, detailing how they plan to improve, the stability of their finances and how they are governed.
The advisory board reviewed the plans to send any recommended actions against the schools to the State Board of Education for consideration in February.
Read the documents
Last week, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to update a policy that dictates how to handle charter schools that are struggling to meet performance standards.
Under the old policy, the state board could revoke the charter of any school that, for two of three consecutive years, failed to meet or exceed expected growth on state tests and had a proficiency rate below 60 percent.
The new policy allows charter schools in the first five years of operation to be labeled "inadequately performing" instead of facing possible closure. The update to the policy now puts the wording more in line with state statute.
Any charter school deemed to be inadequately performing will be required to develop a strategic plan to meet goals for student performance. If they fail to make improvement within two years, the charter will revoked.
For charter schools that have been open more than five years and meet the definition of “inadequately performing,” the school board can begin the process of revoking their charter.
North East Carolina Prep and Oxford Prep are both within their first five years of operation. Phoenix Academy and Rocky Mount Prep have been around more than five years.