State school board delays vote on charter school report, approves policy change
Posted January 7, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — The State Board of Education on Thursday declined to vote on a draft of the annual charter schools report, which is due to the legislature on Jan. 15. They will delay the vote until next month, at the request of Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who called the report "negative" and asked for more time to review it.
"It did not have a lot of positive things to say," Forest said Wednesday. "Once we put those reports out, that’s the fuel that the media uses for the next year to criticize what we’re doing."
When reached by phone Thursday, Forest explained his comments, saying he saw "a pretty one-sided approach to some of the data without there being any qualification to it."
"There's a narrative that's being presented there that's not telling the story," he said. "The news media took it out of context, like I was trying to hide something. That’s not the intent at all. I just want to make sure that charter schools get a fair shake in the report."
Adam Levinson, interim director of the state Office of Charter Schools, which compiled the report, said it is intended to be objective.
"I would call it a vanilla report that is providing statistics," he said. "It's not intended to be editorial one way or the other."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said she was not sure what Forest will seek to change in the report.
"I have asked our lieutenant governor what he would like to see as a part of that," she said. "I'm sure that he understands that it is our responsibility – and his as a member of the board – to present the facts as they are about our schools, our charter schools."
Also on Thursday, the school board 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.
"It gives the school board more discretion," Levinson said.
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.