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