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A group of charter schools in the Southeastern part of the state will face disciplinary action if they don’t soon provide the salaries of school personnel hired by a private contractor to work in the schools.

The State Board of Education voted Thursday to place the four schools run by Charter Day Schools, Inc. – Charter Day School in Leland, Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, South Brunswick High School in Southport and Douglass Academy in Wilmington – under financial noncompliance.

The designation means that the charter school group will have 10 business days to comply with the request for information. After those ten days, the schools will be held under a financial disciplinary status, and will have another 10 days before any fines or sanctions go into effect.

The state board would decide what sanctions to take against the charter schools, and could decide to levy fines against the schools, freeze public funding or seek revocation of the charter schools ability to operate in the state, said Alexis Schauss, the school business division at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Roger Bacon Academies, the company owned by conservative charter school founder Baker Mitchell Jr., has received millions in public funds as part of the company’s exclusive contracts to run four Wilmington-area charter schools.

Nearly 2,000 students enrolled at the four tuition-free schools this year, which draw down federal, state and local education funds. Mitchell also owns a company that leases land and school supplies to the public charter schools. Close to $9 million has gone to Mitchell’s companies over the last two years, according to the Wilmington Star-News.

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A Camden County teacher was briefly suspended  following accusations she told several of her high school students she’d like to kill black residents.

Cynthia Ramsey, a math teacher at Camden County High School, is accused of telling a group of students that “if she only had 10 days to live that she would kill all black people,” according to a mother of one of the students who spoke with WAVY, a Norfolk, Va. television station.

Camden County is located in the northeastern corner of North Carolina.

The teacher, who is white and was not reached for comment by the television station, was suspended with pay for a few days, but is now back in the classroom while school authorities continue to look into the matter. The school board is expected to discuss the matter at their Nov. 13 meeting, according to the WAVY report.

Marianne Russell of Camden County schools told N.C. Policy Watch that Ramsey, who has been with the school district for 14 years, was suspended with pay from Oct. 15 to 27. Russell said she could not say whether or not Ramsey had returned to the classroom.

The Camden County sheriff also looked into the incident, and handed off his agency’s findings to the local prosecutor.

National outlets like Salon, The Root, and RawStory have picked up versions of the story.

 

 

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The Independent, the alternative weekly newspaper in the Triangle, had an interesting piece this week about changes the N.C. Industrial Commission has faced under Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration.

The Industrial Commission serves as the decision-makers in workers compensation disputes and has become more hostile to injured workers and more friendly to business interests with matters before the commission, the article, “McCrory has been quietly skewing the workers’ comp system”claims.

It is worth pointing out that the Independent relined on anonymous sources for many of the political cronyism allegations raised in the article.

From the article:

[R]ecent appointments by Governor McCrory and changes by the General Assembly have left the independence of the commission in question. A number of sources that work in and around the commission—who preferred to remain unnamed because they feared retribution—described a political takeover and a deck that looked increasingly stacked in favor of employers and insurance companies. One source with business before the commission described an increasingly hostile judicial hearing environment for workers that will inevitably clog up the Court of Appeals, with the cost of treating injured workers shifting from employers to the taxpayers.

This summer, a small note in the General Assembly’s final budget bill reclassified the Industrial Commission’s 22 deputy commissioners, turning them from career civil servants into at-will employees who will either be reappointed or let go. The lives and careers of these administrative law judges were placed directly into the hands of the commission’s chair, a young McCrory appointee named Andrew T. Heath. The first group of deputy commissioners will be let go on Feb. 15, 2015, and have already begun to be replaced by more pro-business-minded Republicans. The deputy commissioners were the first line of recourse for workers with compensation disputes—the commissioners travel the state deciding cases between the injured worker plaintiffs and the insurance company and employers that don’t want to pay for their care. If the worker or employer appeals the deputy commissioner’s decision, the case is bumped up for a final decision by the six-commissioner Industrial Commission.

You can read the entire article here.

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A group of Wilmington-area charter schools missed a Monday deadline to provide information to the state about salaries earned by employees of a private contractor that work at the public schools.

Baker Mitchell of Roger Bacon Adademies, with students.

Baker Mitchell of Roger Bacon Academies, with students.

But the private company contracted to run the four charter schools said it will give up the salary information under one condition – that it be considered a “trade secret” and withheld from the public.

“This is a simple yet reasonable approach, utilized frequently throughout North Carolina by state, county and local public agencies to protect confidential and proprietary mutual interests of CDS, DPI, SBE and their constituents, while preserving the sanctity of the RBA Confidential Information,” wrote George Fletcher, an attorney for Roger Bacon Academies in an Oct. 21 letter to John Ferrante, the chair of the schools’ non-profit board of directors.

(Scroll down to read the letter.)

Roger Bacon Academies, the company owned by conservative charter school founder Baker Mitchell Jr., has received millions in public funds as part of the company’s exclusive contracts to run four Wilmington-area charter schools – Charter Day School in Leland, Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, Douglass Academy in Wilmington and South Brunswick Charter School in Bolivia.

Nearly 2,000 students enrolled at the four tuition-free schools this year, which draw down federal, state and local education funds. Mitchell also owns a company that leases land and school supplies to the public charter schools. Close to $9 million has gone to Mitchell’s companies over the last two years, according to the Wilmington Star-News.

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The UNC Board of Governors heard from several top lawmakers Thursday as part of an attempt by the system’s governing board to improve relations with the elected officials that fund them.

So, what advice did they get?

Bring more conservative voices to campuses, keep cutting administrative costs and, when you are asking for more funding, make your case quickly and clearly.

Republican state Reps. John Bell, Tim Moore of Kings Mountain, and Nelson Dollar of Wake County spoke Thursday afternoon with members of the UNC Board of Governor’s public affairs committee.

Dollar, the top budget writer in the House, said in his opening remarks that he and many of his Republican colleagues want to see conservative voices welcomed on the 17 campuses that are part of the UNC system.

“We want to make sure that diversity on campuses means among other things … that more conservative voices have a hearing as well and (are as) welcome at the campuses,” Dollar said.

The conversation Thursday comes as the UNC is preparing its budget requests for the next two years, which the state legislature will take up in its long session beginning in January. Though it avoided significant cuts for this year, public colleges and universities in the state have weathered deep cuts in prior years that trimmed nearly a half-billion dollars in 2011.

Bell, who is finishing his first term, said he hears from constituents and others who think the university system is still too top-heavy.

“Let’s start streamlining some of this bloated administration,” he said, adding that he think there are too many academic centers at various university campuses.

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