News

Charter chain reneges on pledge to only hire licensed teachers, Charlotte Observer reports

Here’s an interesting bit of news that traveled under the radar during this week’s tense State Board of Education meeting, largely because Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Mark Johnson gave his first formal remarks to the board.

According to The Charlotte Observer‘s Ann Doss Helms, a Florida-based charter chain serving struggling students is balking on an earlier pledge to only hire licensed teachers.

State laws allow a host of privileges for charter schools, one being that just 50 percent of a charter’s teaching staff needs to be licensed by the state. In traditional public schools, all teachers must be licensed.

According to the paper, Accelerated Learning Solutions—a for-profit company operating two dropout prevention schools in Charlotte and one in Wake County—told the state it would certify all of its teachers when applying for state money. But now they’re reportedly asking for the State Board of Education to relax those requirements.

From The Charlotte Observer:

Now ALS, a for-profit company that specializes in dropout prevention and recovery, is asking North Carolina to revise the agreement and allow up to half the teachers to be unlicensed. The schools in question – Stewart Creek and Commonwealth high schools in Charlotte and Central Wake High in Raleigh – all offer flexible schedules for 16- to 21-year-olds who are trying to finish high school.

The change, if approved by the Board of Education next month, would put the ALS schools on the same footing as other charter schools in North Carolina, which requires only that 50 percent be licensed.

“Obviously this is a difficult population to serve, so finding teachers is a little difficult,” Dave Machado, director of North Carolina’s Office of Charter Schools, told the state Board of Education this week. He said the chain has brought in some teachers from Florida who aren’t yet licensed in North Carolina.

Machado said the two Charlotte schools, which opened in 2014 and 2015, have been able to get licensed teachers for 60 to 80 percent of their jobs. Central Wake just opened this school year, and Machado said he didn’t have numbers for that school.

There does, however, seem to be some dispute from the charter school about how their new request came about.

From the paper:

But in an email response to an Observer query Thursday evening, ALS Executive Principal Thomas Hanley said the information Machado provided is inaccurate.

“100 percent of the teachers employed by Commonwealth, Stewart Creek and Central Wake are licensed and highly qualified,” Hanley wrote. “The request is being made to the State Board to adjust our charter to comply with teacher licensure requirements for charter schools.”

ALS applied to enter the Charlotte market in 2013. “All (100%) of the classroom teachers at the School will hold a valid North Carolina teaching license,” the charter application said, saying that was a key strategy for meeting the needs of potential and returning dropouts.

That promise became part of the charter, or legal agreement, between the state and ALS. Machado told the board that the schools haven’t been able to find enough licensed teachers, so they’re now out of compliance with their charter even though they’re in compliance with charter-school law.

But Hanley said the charter revision is on the table only because “if there is a vacancy for a period of time” the schools would fall out of compliance with the charter, which “was the unintended consequence of our current status.”

The state board isn’t expected to make a decision on ALS’ request until next month.

One Comment


  1. Susan Olson

    January 8, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you for highlighting this. ALS was probably hoping nobody would notice.

Check Also

Report: N.C. drops seven from list of schools eligible for charter takeover

Seven North Carolina schools are off North Carolina’s ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

For the 18 months, Gary Brown has been traveling through northeastern North Carolina like an itinera [...]

It will be at least another month before state Superintendent Mark Johnson can take over at the helm [...]

Eric Hall, in the midst of a rainy drive to rural Robeson County to pitch North Carolina’s ambitious [...]

The fire is elusive, but the smoke is thick. An analysis of professional and political relationships [...]

5---number of days since Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham unveiled a new proposal to repeal [...]

The post The stench of hate speech appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

When a Navy recruiter visited his high school, Carlos was among those students eager to sign up. In [...]

Website with ties to Civitas Institute promotes anti-Semitic attack on Attorney General Stein There [...]

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more


NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more