State Board of Education approves charter school’s request to terminate management agreement with Torchlight

Without comment, the State Board of Education (SBE) on Thursday approved a request by Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School (Essie Mae) to terminate its management agreement with Raleigh-based Torchlight Academy Schools.

Officials of the small charter school in Rowan County asked for to end its relationship with Torchlight after only one year due to poor fiscal and operational management.

Don McQueen, president of Torchlight, did not appear at Thursday’s SBE business meeting to dispute the school’s claim.

Dave Machado told SBE members Thursday that he is confident Essie Mae leaders can manage the school without Torchlight.

Strangely enough, Essie Mae’s criticism of Torchlight hasn’t deterred six new schools seeking state charters from doing business with the management firm.

Torchlight is listed as the management organization on five new charter school applications received by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction ahead of the Aug, 26 deadline.

It’s also listed as the management firm for New Generation Charter Academy in Edgecombe County. The school is one of five seeking fast-track approval to open next year.

McQueen told Policy Watch this week that he expects lots of scrutiny when the Charter School Advisory Board begins to review new charter school applications.

Torchlight already manages three charters, including a school in Raleigh that bears its name.

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