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The North Carolina State Board of Education decided Wednesday it would postpone its review of a preliminary virtual school policy due to the absence of Joel Medley, director of the state’s Office of Charter Schools.

The policy contains “a lot of really dense language,” said Melissa Bartlett, chairwoman of the Leadership and Innovation Committee, which oversees charter schools.

A death in the family prevented Medley from attending. “With [him] not here,” Bartlett said, “I feel very uncomfortable even opening this important discussion.”

Virtual charter schools have so far met with resistance in North Carolina. A superior court judge effectively blocked an educational company called N.C. Learns from opening a virtual charter school earlier this year, a move that was supported by the N.C. School Boards Association and the N.C. Justice Center. Read more about the N.C. Learns case here. 

 

One can’t help but wonder what the leaders of the Georgia-based accreditation agency AdvancedED have to say about the latest allegations of theft and a romantic tryst between two members of the Wake County School Board.

AdvancedED President Mark Elgart has in recent days had critical things to say about partisan decisions made by the school board, particularly the firing of former Superintendent Tony Tata and the abandonment of yet another student assignment plan.

The decisions, coupled with a complaint from the Wake County Taxpayers Association, have renewed the possibility of another investigation by AdvancedEd, which already has the state’s largest schools system on its own brand of academic probation.

Wake County’s at-risk status began after the Republicans gained a majority on the school board nearly three years ago and voted to abolish the school system’s diversity-based student assignment policy.

At the time, AdvancedED’s rating of Wake County schools plummeted to a “warned” status, the rough equivalent of a C. Over time the school system worked its way up to an “on advisement” status, or a B.

Elgart has said the recent spate of 5-4 decisions, this time favoring the current Democratic majority, are troubling and could affect the accreditation of district high schools, which in turn could have a ripple effect on college bound aspirations of Wake County graduates.

Those, however, were Elgart’s comments before the release of a police narrative documenting allegations of theft at the home of Republican School Board member Debra Goldman, who listed fellow Republican school board member Chris Malone as a suspect. The narrative also reveals claims of a romantic relationship between the two.

Speculation from former board chairman Ron Margiotta, also a Republican, suggests that the relationship between Goldman and Malone affected a critical vote in 2010 that would have divided the school district into 16 student assignment zones.

The vote was expected to be a 5-4 victory for the then Republican majority, but in a surprise twist, Goldman voted against the measure.

Already displeased with the school board’s penchant for partisan voting, it will be very interesting to see what Elgart has to say about this new brand of partisan, or “anti-partisan,” voting.

Goldman, by the way, is the Republican candidate for state auditor; Malone, R-Wake Forest, is running for a seat in the state House.