Raleigh – The NC Alliance for Public Charter Schools announced today that it has issued a Freedom of Information Request to the Office of Charter Schools (OCS) seeking the basis on which OCS withheld 29 applications from review by the Advisory Council. NC Alliance Public Records Act Request
The Office of Charter Schools (OCS) announced that 70 applications for new charter schools were received by the March 1 deadline. But last week, only 41 applications were passed through to the Advisory Council for review and evaluation.
The Alliance was notified by several applicants that they had received rejection letters stating their submissions were not being forwarded to the Council because the applications were “Incomplete.”
One such application had a detailed 5-year budget, but OCS took exception to a $561 deficit in the first year, despite over a million dollar fund balance being shown at the end of the 5th year along with substantial assets in the non-profit corporation.
Another rejected application had a full narrative on governance but was called “incomplete” because there was not an organizational chart included.
Another application was rejected because a school calendar was not included in spite of a detail narrative discussion of the school’s calendar. The charter law does not mention that a calendar is required. The law requires that a description of the program be provided, but if the applicant does not feel that a calendar is needed, it should be up to the Council to decide the adequacy of the description.
The statute requires a budget, a description of the governance, and a description of the program along with other information, but it leaves the details up to the applicant. http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_115C/GS_115C-238.29B.html
Given these three instances, the Alliance is requesting information on all 29 rejections and will make a decision on further action when it reviews the data.
Certainly the efforts of OCS are vital in handling the massive influx of applications, and their comments on the applications should be carefully weighed by the Advisory Council. However, judgmental decisions of the adequacy or effectiveness of a budget or governance method or program description should be the ultimate decision of the Council.
“We recognize that OCS is doing their job in finding the issues with the applications and that those issues absolutely should be noted in their transmission to the Council, but the proper procedure is for all complete applications to be forwarded to the Council,” said Alliance attorney John Branch.
Branch said that the next step will depend upon what is contained in the rejection letters.