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Charter School Advisory Board votes against three-year charter renewal for Three Rivers Academy

It is likely a moot point, but the Charter School Advisory Board has recommended that Three Rivers Academy’s charter not be renewed.

The recommendation to not renew Three River’s charter comes less than a week after the State Board ordered the school closed following a state investigation that found academic, fiscal, and governance shortcomings at the low-performing school of about 80 students.

Three Rivers can appeal the board’s decision to close the school.

The troubled K-8 school in Bertie County was among 27 schools whose charters are up for renewal this year. The State Board of Education will consider the recommendations at its February meeting, then vote on them in March.

The Charter Board also recommended no-renewal for UpROAR Leadership Academy in Charlotte due to poor academic performance and financial concerns. The board approved nine schools for 10-year renewals; four for seven-year renewals and 12 for three-year renewals.

The State Board can renew charters for 10 years unless:

  • The charter school has not provided financially sound audits for the immediately preceding three years.
  • The charter school’s student academic outcomes for the immediately preceding three years have not been comparable to the academic outcomes of students in the local school administrative unit in which the charter school is located.
  • The charter school is not substantially in compliance with State law, federal law, the school’s own bylaws, or the provisions set forth in its charter granted by the State Board of Education.

The board may renew a school’s charter for less than 10 years if one of the conditions applies.

Several failures led to the board’s recommendation to close Three Rivers:

  • Data shows that Three Rivers didn’t meet accepted standards of student performance.
  • Three Rivers didn’t provide financial records and audits, which are legally required as part of generally accepted standards of fiscal management.
  • The school violated federal and state law, including special education law.
  • Three Rivers also violated its charter by failing to promptly provide requested information; nor did the school’s governing board properly monitor Three Rivers’ affairs.

Meanwhile, the State Board will hold a special meeting on January 26 to discuss Three River’s sister school, Raleigh-based Torchlight Academy, which is under state scrutiny for abuses in its special education program. Torchlight also faces closure.

Charter operator Don McQueen manages both schools through his charter management firm, Torchlight Academy Schools LLC. 

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