Leeway for struggling charter schools proposed

The State Board of Education is considering a new policy that would allow struggling charter schools to stay open.

The current policy requires the board to begin revoking a school’s charter if students do not meet expectations for academic growth and if fewer than 60 percent meet proficiency standards.

The new policy recommendation, from the Charter School Advisory Board, would provide more options for a State Board response – from initiating revocation to doing nothing.

Oversight of charter schools has become increasingly detailed as this sector of public education has grown. Charters receive public money but operate free of many regulations that govern traditional public schools.

The proposal may be revised before a vote. In a meeting Wednesday, some State Board members were uncomfortable with the idea of doing nothing when faced with a failing school.

“I would personally say that ‘take no action’ is not an option,” board member Wayne McDevitt said. The education board should take note of schools that are struggling but improving, he said.

The other options for the Board would be to put the failing charter up for competitive bid to have another entity take it over; require the school to write a plan for improvement; or “take any other action deemed appropriate.”

The advisory board reviews charter applications and charter schools’ performance. It makes recommendations to the State Board on applications to accept and on charters to revoke.

Alex Quigley, chairman of the charter advisory board, said the proposed policy rewrite attempts to address the nuance involved in evaluating schools.

“By no means are we trying to preserve low performance,” Quigley said. “The board has shown we have a high bar.”

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner