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UPDATE: State board members voted to not renew the charters for PACE Academy and Coastal Academy, meaning the schools will close at the end of the school year. The board’s decision can be appealed to an administrative court.

The State Board of Education decided today to not renew support for  today whether a handful of charter schools up for renewal should continue to operate, including charter schools in Carrboro and Morehead City that have been flagged by state education staff as problematic.

Staff from Office of Charter Schools are recommending that the state board terminate charters held by the Coastal Academy for Technology and Science (formerly known as Cape Lookout Marine Science High School) in Morehead City and PACE Academy in Carrboro.

“Both schools had patterns of noncompliance, low academic performance, and concerns related to the financial sustainability of each school,” DPI staff wrote in materials provided to state board members. “The nonrenewal votes of the CSAB were unanimous in both instances.”

The state board is expected to make its decision later this morning. (UPDATE: The state board voted late Thursday morning to not renew the school’s contracts.)

To find out what happens, you can listen to audio of the meeting here, read public documents about the renewal process here  or follow N.C. Policy Watch education reporter Lindsay Wagner, who is at the meeting, on Twitter here.

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A for-profit online education company will be at the legislature tomorrow to give a pitch to lawmakers about the virtual public charter schools it runs, and profits from, in more than 30 other states.

An executive from K12, Inc., a Wall Street-traded company that gets the bulk of its revenue from running online public schools, is slated to make a presentation Tueaday at the Joint Legislative Education Oversight committee. The hearing begins at 10 am. Tuesday in room 643 of the Legislative Office Buildling.

(Steaming audio of the meeting will be available here, and a copy of the commitee’s agenda is here.)

Mary Gifford, the company’s senior vice-president for education policy scheduled to speak to lawmakers, also spoke last week in front of a virtual charter school study group assembled to craft recommendations for the State Board of Education of how the online-only schools should operate in North Carolina.

At that meeting, Gifford acknowledged low graduation and performance rates K12,Inc.-run schools have had in other states, saying that the company’s schools tend to attract low performing students and the home-based system of education can do little to help those high-school students.

“High school is a nightmare,” Gifford told the virtual charter study group last Tuesday. Forty percent of the students in high school will be very successful.”

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A proposed Charlotte charter school had its approval revoked today for extensively plagiarizing large sections of the school’s initial application.

The Cameron Creek Charter School, which would have opened up this fall, was taken out of a batch of 25 charter schools the N.C. State Board of Education was considering final approval. The state board approved 24 of the charter schools.

The Cameron Creek Charter School had large chunks of its 155-page application that were identical to what another group had submitted previously to the state.  The plagiarized application included multiple references to the other proposed charter school, Charlotte Learning Academy, which applied in 2011 but did not get approval from the State Board of Education.

A Cameron Creek out-of-state board member, Melvin Sharpe of Philadelphia, also had been prohibited from practicing law in Pennsylvania for taking funds from clients to use for his own personal uses. Sharpe’s disbarment was first reported last month by N.C. Policy Watch, and was mentioned Wednesday to the state board as an additional reason to rescind the school’s approval.

A representative from the Charlotte Learning Academy discovered the similarity between Cameron Creek’s charter school and their own application when preparing to reapply to open a state and contacted the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools about the duplication.

The plagiarism, including mention of a different charter school, wasn’t noticed in the application period, when DPI staff, an advisory committee for charter schools and the state education board are tasked with reviewing applications.

Since the N.C. state legislature lifted the 100-school cap on charter schools, DPI has dealt with a flood of interest in the privately-run, publicly-funded schools without a corresponding increase in staff. The office of charter schools had six people tasked with monitoring the 100-plus existing charter schools, as well as reviewing applications for future charter schools. In the next round of applications, 70 groups have applied to open in the 2014-15 school year, while 24 new charter schools will open this fall.

Here’s a list of the schools the state board did give final approval, with links to the schools’ websites: Read More