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Mother Upset Over Raleigh Charter H.S. Denying Enrollment To Son

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RALEIGH — Charter schools

are not supposed to be exclusive, but Raleigh Charter High School has been accused of hand-picking students.

Raleigh Charter High School runs a college prep program for ninth- through 12th-graders. Angela Blalock's daughter is a student at the school, and despite a learning disability, she has performed well. She tried to enroll her son, Joseph, at the the school 16 weeks ago, but the school never put him in the charter lottery.

"By not allowing him to be placed in the lottery, I think, that was the biggest wrong," she says.

Joseph's recommendation from Magellan Charter apparently started the problem. A teacher recommended a two-semester algebra course because of his learning disability. The school does not offer one, so it excluded him from the lottery. However, the charter approved by the state does not say it can do that.

Two weeks ago, the Charter Advisory Committee asked Raleigh Charter High to explain how it runs the lottery.

"That charter is really that school's license to operate. They did admit they are doing some things differently than what is in their original charter," says Mike Fedawa, chairman of the committee.

The advisory board asked the Office of Charter Schools to look into the charter's operations.

"They will decide who's out of compliance and what's out of compliance and where we go from there," says Carl Pridgen, a consultant for N.C. Charter Schools.

Blalock has every confidence that the faculty would help her son learn, but she fears that he will never get the benefit of their teaching. She says she is willing to sue to give him a chance.

"I don't know at this point if that's where I'll send him, but I would like that option. I would just like that option," she says.

If the Charter Advisory Subcommittee finds a discrepancy between the school's rules outlined in its charter and how it operates, especially the lottery, the school can file an amendment to its charter but that must be approved by the school board.

Blalock's son could still get into the school if school officials relent or a judge orders them to allow him in.