UPDATE: State board members voted to not renew the charters for PACE Academy and Coastal Academy, meaning the schools will close at the end of the school year. The board’s decision can be appealed to an administrative court.
The State Board of Education decided today to not renew support for today whether a handful of charter schools up for renewal should continue to operate, including charter schools in Carrboro and Morehead City that have been flagged by state education staff as problematic.
Staff from Office of Charter Schools are recommending that the state board terminate charters held by the Coastal Academy for Technology and Science (formerly known as Cape Lookout Marine Science High School) in Morehead City and PACE Academy in Carrboro.
“Both schools had patterns of noncompliance, low academic performance, and concerns related to the financial sustainability of each school,” DPI staff wrote in materials provided to state board members. “The nonrenewal votes of the CSAB were unanimous in both instances.”
The state board is expected to make its decision later this morning. (UPDATE: The state board voted late Thursday morning to not renew the school’s contracts.)
To find out what happens, you can listen to audio of the meeting here, read public documents about the renewal process here or follow N.C. Policy Watch education reporter Lindsay Wagner, who is at the meeting, on Twitter here.
The News & Observer had a story today on PACE Academy, pointing out that school leaders have collected more than 1,000 signatures in support of the school focused on providing schooling to students with behaviorial and other problems. The superintendent of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools wrote a letter in support of the charter school as well.
From the N&O:
PACE, whose mission is to support students’ academic growth, emotional development and professional readiness, said comparing its test scores to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district is unfair because more than half of its students are considered exceptional children, meaning each has one or more disabilities.
Chapel Hill-Carborro City Schools Superintendent Tom Forcella wrote a letter to the N.C. Board of Education supporting PACE because it provided students with behavioral problems an alternative. Currently, CHCCS has only one alternative school, Phoenix Academy.
DPI charter school staff want to know more about the relationship between the school and a high school prep basketball team that recruits players internationally, who then attend the high school.
From the N&O story:
The Office of Charter Schools is also looking into PACE’s involvement with Bull City Prep Academy, a for-profit club basketball team. Nine of the club’s high school team’s 11 players attend PACE.
Medley sent a letter to PACE principal Rhonda Franklin and Board of Directors Chairwoman Sylvia Mason, noting that the club was listing the charter school as a sponsor and also as staff on its team website.
PACE responded, saying they contacted coach Darryl Harris after getting the state’s inquiry and he explained he used a template from a website provider in order to publish statistics for his players.
“He further explained that there was no other place on the website to list what school the player attended,” the PACE response said. “Mr. Harris immediately contacted the website host/provider who has since removed the term ‘sponsor’ and ‘staff school’ from the Bull City Prep Website.”
PACE officials say they have no relationship with Bull City Prep Academy and that the players who attend the school are there for academics only.
The Office of Charter Schools is continuing to look at a similar scenario at a Winston-Salem charter school, Quality Education Academy, that enrolls basketball players from around the globe who play on the school’s basketball team and was profiled here in an N.C. Policy Watch investigation last year.