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Members of a State Board of Education committee met Monday to consider a draft agreement with winners of a virtual charter school pilot program that would require them to provide computers or other technology to needy students.

Explaining that equal opportunities must be provided to every child in accordance with the state constitution, N.C. Office of Charter Schools Director Joel Medley outlined the provision in the agreement that would force virtual charter schools to provide any student, should she need it, with a computer or internet access at no cost.

The provision reads:

1.     Accessibility

7.1       Pursuant to the Constitution of North Carolina which declares that “equal opportunities shall be provided for all students, the Virtual Charter School cannot deny a child access to this program.  If a child is properly admitted through the lottery but cannot afford the appropriate connectivity or equipment, the Virtual Charter School shall provide that access and equipment at no cost to the family

7.2       The Nonprofit will ensure that all of its advertising and marketing materials includes a statement that no child will be denied admission on account of inability to afford the necessary equipment and connectivity.

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The former principal of embattled Charlotte public charter school Entrepreneur High says he plans to file a complaint Friday afternoon to seek reinstatement as head of the school and the ability to reopen its doors early next week.

“Yes, I plan to reopen the school,” Dr. Hans Plotseneder told N.C. Policy Watch Friday. “My termination [as principal] was not following the legal procedure…it was wrongful and I need to be reinstated. My lawyer is on the way to court now.”

Dr. Plotseneder says the chairman of the nonprofit board for Entrepreneur High School, Mr. Robert L. Hillman, did not follow proper procedure when he added new members to the board on January 18. On that day, says Plotseneder, Hillman then had enough votes to formally terminate him as principal (he was fired before Christmas) and get the green light to close the school’s doors.

Mr. Hillman could not be reached for comment Friday.

Entrepreneur High School abruptly shut down a week ago. The school only had $14 in its bank account and enrollment was far below the statutory minimum of 65 students. New Hanover Schools superintendent Tim Markley, who served as a reviewer of Plotseneder’s multiple applications to the state to open EHS, told N.C. Policy Watch he voted against its opening twice, saying “the financials weren’t there.” Read More

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Lawmakers in Virginia’s General Assembly are advancing a bipartisan effort to abolish their A-F school grading system, according to WBDJ7 in Roanoke.

The A-F scale for schools was adopted in 2013 at the urging of then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, as a public measure of school quality based on student test scores.

But the law was never implemented. The 2014 legislature delayed it two years.

On a 3-2 vote Monday, a Senate subcommittee endorsed Sen. Richard Black’s bill to abolish the A-F scale entirely. A similar measure is pending in the House of Delegates.

Black, a Loudoun County Republican, said he initially supported the grading scale but has become convinced that an F grade would stigmatize a school’s students and make it hard to recruit teachers. Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration supports repeal.

At a live taping of the weekly talk show NC SPIN this morning, panelists expressed concern with North Carolina’s own A-F school grading system, which assesses schools largely on the basis of how students perform on a single test given on one day, rather than the improvement a school makes over time.

Proponents of the A-F grading system, a policy initially launched in Florida under then-Governor Jeb Bush, say the grades allow parents to better understand how their children’s schools are performing. But critics say grading a school based on its students’ performance on a single test is not a good measure of success and worry that low-marked schools will experience negative long-term effects that include difficulty in attracting high quality teachers.

Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) said this morning he endorses the grading system, but acknowledged that there are problems with its formula. Other panelists promoted changing the formula so that it was more heavily weighted toward improved student performance on assessments over time.

North Carolina will release A-F grades for its schools for the first time on February 5.

 

News

lw-1-21Standards and assessment, teacher pay and school vouchers were some of the hottest  education issues that key stakeholders predicted would dominate this year’s legislative session at a breakfast hosted Wednesday by the Public School Forum in Raleigh.

Tom Campbell, host of the weekly talk show NC SPIN, held a special taping of his program at the breakfast, during which he quizzed Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) and others about what lawmakers plan to do this year for education.

“I do think we need to look at expanding it [the school voucher program],” said Horn. “The number of applications alone for these vouchers show the demand by the public.”

“We need to watch it very carefully,” Horn added. “I’m not at all suggesting that we fling the doors open, but we have got to allow parents to take control of the education of their children.” Read More

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The struggling charter school Entrepreneur High School has shut its doors, leaving dozens of students scrambling to find new schools to finish out the academic year.

Tim Markley, New Hanover schools superintendent and a reviewer of Entrepreneur’s application, told N.C. Policy Watch he didn’t think the school should have opened.

“The application [for Entrepreneur] came forward two years in a row and I voted against it twice. The entire board turned it down the first time,” said Markley, who previously served on the N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Council.

“Honestly, I thought the financials were’t there,” said Markley. “Their plan for implementing a vocational program wasn’t there. The plan included a lot of vocational teachers, but didn’t exhibit an understanding of the business side of running a school. I was critical of it both times.”

Markley’s assessment was overruled by two other advisory council members who decided to allow Entrepreneur to open, even though they also expressed reservations about the financial and academic plans of the school that can be read in the school’s application here.

Entrepreneur High School is a vocational public charter school that had hoped to enroll 180 students in its first year. But it only attracted 78 students to start with last September, said the head of the N.C. Office of Charter Schools, Dr. Joel Medley. By January, only 31 students were attending classes.

Those low enrollment numbers — and the fact that the school continued to lose students throughout the fall — left the school in dire financial straits.

Speaking of Dr. Hans Plotseneder, the founder of the school who was fired by its board just before Christmas, Markley said, “he had a lot of passion for the school, but he didn’t have the wherewithal to start a school.”

Andrew Dunn of the Charlotte Observer reported today that Plotseneder plans to reopen the school with a combination of state funds he believes he can secure next month, loans, and a plan to sublease part of the school’s building. His hopes to have a charter management organization (CMO) take over the school eventually.