A Winston-Salem public charter school is continuing its efforts to bring in elite basketball players from around the nation and world, and recently saw three of its out-of-state players recruited to play next year at Division 1 colleges.
All three of the players who signed collegiate letters of intent came from outside North Carolina to attend Quality Education Academy, a charter school that is part of the state’s growing system of schools that are privately run by non-profit boards but funded with local, state and federal education dollars.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools, which monitors the 127 charter schools in the state, has previously raised concerns about QEA’s controversial basketball program, but neither DPI nor the N.C. Board of Education have taken any significant steps to curtail or stop the out-of-state recruitment. The school and it basketball team were the subjects of an N.C. Policy Watch investigation last year (scroll down to read more about that report).
June Atkinson, a Democrat elected to head the state’s K-12 public education system, said last year that charter schools have to accept students from North Carolina but the laws governing charter schools are silent as to whether that means the school is open to only North Carolina residents.
Meanwhile, the basketball program’s efforts to look outside North Carolina don’t appear to be slowing.
Isaac Pitts, the basketball coach for Quality Education Academy, recently referred to his ongoing efforts to pull in players from overseas on his Instagram account.
“Evaluating overseas talent and liking what I see! Wow,” Pitts wrote on March 28 as a caption to a screenshot of several youth playing on an outdoor basketball court.
In another photo of what appears to be the same video, Pitts wrote, “Just sitting here looking at game film of kids we’re interested in.”
The school saw three of its seniors sign levels of commitment to Division 1 schools earlier this month.
The players include:
- Ibrahima Diallo, of Senegal, who will play for Rutgers University
- D’Marques Tyson, of Seattle, will play for University of Portland
- Imani Miller, who left his Knoxville, Tenn. school to attend QEA in 2012, will play for Hampton University
Khalil Rasheed, who attended schools in New York and Virginia before enrolling in mid-October at QEA, after the school year began, also signed a letter of intent last week to play next year for an eastern Illinois junior college.
— QEA Hoops (@qeahoops) April 17, 2014
A Twitter account for the basketball team announced the mid-April signings, and included a photograph of the players with both Pitts and QEA founder and principal Simon Johnson.
N.C. Policy Watch wrote last year about QEA’s recruitment of international and national players to a school that is almost entirely funded with public education dollars.
The investigation found that two-thirds of the school’s varsity basketball player over a five year period came from outside North Carolina, though their educations were subsidized by North Carolina taxpayers. The investigation also found that the school doesn’t offer varsity sports for girls, a potential violation of the Title IX requirement that schools that receive federal funds treat girls and boys athletic programs equally.
The schools had previously been drawing down public school allotment for its basketball players, but Johnson said in an interview the out-of-state players are charged $2,000 in annual tuition, which was paid for by an obscure non-profit registered in Johnson’s name as reported in this previous N.C. Policy Watch article.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction also gave another charter school backed by Johnson in nearby Guilford County in 2013 despite ongoing concerns DPI employees raised about Johnson and QEA’s involvement with the recruitment of out-of-state basketball players. Johnson serves on the board of directors for the College Preparatory and Leadership Academy of High Point and his daughter-in-law is the school’s principal.
The public charter school is currently housed inside a Greensboro church, while school leaders prepare a permanent location in High Point.