Education, News

Superintendent Mark Johnson names former charter school headmaster as his chief of staff

DPI Superintendent Mark Johnson

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson has named the former headmaster of a Rutherford County charter as his new chief of staff, Johnson’s office announced Friday.

Johnson announced Joe Maimone’s appointment a few months after Maimone’s unexpected resignation from Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, the Mooresboro charter he co-founded in 1998.

Maimone has also served on the state’s Charter Schools Advisory Board — which counsels the State Board of Education on charter policy and applications — since 2013.

Joe Maimone, Superintendent Johnson’s new chief of staff

The position will report directly to Johnson, a Republican school choice supporter who’s clashed openly with the State Board of Education over K-12 policy and the budget.

“Joe has the management expertise and the background in K-12 education to help us continue the process of making this department function best,” Johnson said in a statement. “I am happy to have him join the team of professionals who make up the Department of Public Instruction.”

Johnson touted Maimone’s background with the charter school in his announcement Friday, pointing out that he led the school as it grew from 110 students in grades 7-9 in 1999 to about 1,300 students in grades K-12 today.

The superintendent’s announcement said students “thrived” at Maimone’s school.

The charter earned a “B” performance grade and did not meet growth expectations on its 2016-2017 assessments, according to the most recent state report available.

The school serves a decidedly different population than many typical public schools, however, with just 7.5 percent of its students considered “economically disadvantaged.” Traditional school supporters have often pointed out that the state’s growing charter sector serves a more affluent population.

Academic research has documented the powerful impact socioeconomic status has had on academic performance.

The charter is part of the TeamCFA charter network, which has deep ties to influential Republican state leaders.

Maimone also made some waves this year when he suggested traditional public schools were “milking” the federal school lunch program, serving free lunches to students who could afford to pay for their meals, according to The News & Observer.

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