A proposed Charlotte charter school had its approval revoked today for extensively plagiarizing large sections of the school’s initial application.
The Cameron Creek Charter School, which would have opened up this fall, was taken out of a batch of 25 charter schools the N.C. State Board of Education was considering final approval. The state board approved 24 of the charter schools.
The Cameron Creek Charter School had large chunks of its 155-page application that were identical to what another group had submitted previously to the state. The plagiarized application included multiple references to the other proposed charter school, Charlotte Learning Academy, which applied in 2011 but did not get approval from the State Board of Education.
A Cameron Creek out-of-state board member, Melvin Sharpe of Philadelphia, also had been prohibited from practicing law in Pennsylvania for taking funds from clients to use for his own personal uses. Sharpe’s disbarment was first reported last month by N.C. Policy Watch, and was mentioned Wednesday to the state board as an additional reason to rescind the school’s approval.
A representative from the Charlotte Learning Academy discovered the similarity between Cameron Creek’s charter school and their own application when preparing to reapply to open a state and contacted the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools about the duplication.
The plagiarism, including mention of a different charter school, wasn’t noticed in the application period, when DPI staff, an advisory committee for charter schools and the state education board are tasked with reviewing applications.
Since the N.C. state legislature lifted the 100-school cap on charter schools, DPI has dealt with a flood of interest in the privately-run, publicly-funded schools without a corresponding increase in staff. The office of charter schools had six people tasked with monitoring the 100-plus existing charter schools, as well as reviewing applications for future charter schools. In the next round of applications, 70 groups have applied to open in the 2014-15 school year, while 24 new charter schools will open this fall.
Here’s a list of the schools the state board did give final approval, with links to the schools’ websites:
- Aristotle Preparatory Academy in Charlotte
- Cabarrus Charter Academy in Concord
- Charlotte Choice Charter in Charlotte
- Douglass Academy in Wilmington
- Falls Lake Academy in Granville County
- Flemington Academy in Lake Waccamaw (Columbus County)
- Howard & Lillian Lee Scholars in Chapel Hill
- Invest Collegiate in Charlotte’s Wilmore neighborhood
- Island Montessori Charter in Carolina Beach
- Langtree Charter Academy in Mooresville
- Longleaf School of the Arts in Raleigh
- Oxford Preparatory High School in Oxford (Granville County)
- Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy in Elizabethtown
- Pinnacle Classical Academy in Shelby
- Southeastern Academy in Lumberton
- STEM Education for a Global Society Academy (SEGS) in Delco (Columbus County)
- StudentFirst Academy in Charlotte
- Summerfield Charter Academy in Summerfield (Guilford County)
- The Expedition School in Hillsborough (Orange County, school does not have a permanent location yet)
- The Institute for the Development of Young Leaders in Durham
- The North Carolina Leadership Academy in Kernersville
- Uwharrie Charter Academy in Asheboro
- Willow Oak Montessori in Chatham County
- Z.E.C.A School of Arts and Technology in Jacksonville