Local News

Charter Revoked for School Inside Wake Jail

Posted January 4, 2007 8:40 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2007 9:31 p.m. EST

The John Baker Charter School is located inside the Wake County Jail. Now, after nine years, the school has lost its charter.

In a unanimous decision, the state Board of Education revoked the charter for the school on Thursday. Problems with the school designed for incarcerated students first surfaced in 2005.

An investigation showed the school excluded eligible students, conducted school outside of the jail at numerous sites, and failed to keep accurate attendance records. The main concern for officials was that the school could have received tax dollars for students who didn't exist.

“The state Board of Education has an obligation to make sure that public monies are spent in the proper way, and we had to act on this,” said board member Kathy Taft.

No one from the school would comment Thursday about the board’s decision. However, the school's lawyer did tell WRAL: “We are very, very disappointed with the state Board of Education’s (decision) to revoke the charter. We believe we have corrected or are in the process of correcting every issue that the state board had problems with."

A new board of directors has been put in place at the school, and the school’s lawyer said an appeal of the decision is possible

Members of the state board said what happened with the Baker School was unfortunate. It might not be a charter school after June of this year, but officials said the students will keep learning,

“The people who are involved with John H. Baker are not going to stop providing services for these students,” Taft said. “They're good people and they have good intentions and they're going to make sure these students get what they need.”

The school will continue to operate through June 30. After that, school leaders had said before the state board acted, students would still be able to complete course work through other programs, but they will not be able to get a diploma.
State lawmakers passed the law creating charter schools in 1997. Since then, this is the eighth school to have had its charter revoked. Most have been for noncompliance issues.

One of the schools that had its charter revoked was in Wake County. The Bonner Academy lost its charter in 1997 because state officials said it didn't provide required financial and academic records.