Archives by: Greg Childress

Greg Childress

About the author

Greg Childress, Education Reporter,
joined Policy Watch in December 2018 after nearly 30 years at The Herald-Sun of Durham, where he spent his last five years covering the Durham Public Schools, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools. Greg also covered city and county governments in Durham and Orange counties, higher education and spent 10 years as an associate editorial page editor.
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Greg Childress's articles and posts

COVID-19 Education News Top Story

Citing positive infection and vaccination numbers, Cooper calls for end to school mask mandates

Governor, however, expresses skepticism about GOP bill that would remove authority from local school boards Citing improving COVID-19 trends and the availability of effective vaccines, Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday urged school boards to end indoor masking mandates beginning March 7.  The governor made his remarks during an afternoon news conference, where he was flanked by state health officials.

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Education News Top Story

Book banning battles hit North Carolina schools

Conservatives target works dealing with race and LGBTQ themes Parents of sixth graders in a gifted language-arts class at Marvin Ridge Middle School received an email from their children’s teacher last month warning them that a book selected for the class’s unit on African American literature would at times be “uncomfortable.”

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Education News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at crimes, suspensions and expulsions in NC schools

North Carolina’s public schools saw a significant reduction in the number of crimes, suspensions, and expulsions during the 2020-21 school year as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis that forced most school districts to offer a mix of remote and in-person learning.  The State Department of Public Instruction shared the findings of the state’s 2020-21 Consolidated Data Report during the State Board of Education’s business meeting last week. 

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Environment Top Story

New revelations point to additional violations at troubled charter schools

State officials say student records were wrongfully altered at Wake and Bertie County schools by the daughter of the couple who ran them The management of Three Rivers Academy and Torchlight Academy was a family affair when state monitors found “altered documents” in the schools’ exceptional children programs.

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Education News Top Story

PW exclusive: Former Three Rivers principal describes chaos at charter school, which state plans to close

Don McQueen, operator of Three Rivers Academy, allegedly padded enrollment numbers, paid families so students would attend class, and took other extreme measures to ensure state per-pupil funds kept flowing to the troubled charter school in Bertie County. A former teacher detailed these allegations in an interview with Policy Watch, which were corroborated by a former principal of the school, Hans Lassiter. Lassiter worked at the controversial Bertie County charter school during the first half of the 2020-21 school year.

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Education News Top Story

Controversial NC charter school operator poised to lose charter amid fiscal, governance concerns

Last year ended on a sour note for charter school operator Don McQueen when the Charter School Advisory Board placed Torchlight Academy, which he manages, on probation.  The new year isn’t going well for McQueen, either. 

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Education Top Story

Year in review: Critical Race Theory, mask mandates and Leandro funding made for a tumultuous 2021 in education

Critical Race Theory and face mask mandates dominated the state’s education headlines in 2021, even as students and teachers struggled to recover from a year of remote learning that saw standardized test scores fall to new lows.  Racial and economic inequities in education, exposed by the pandemic, were quickly shoved to the background by a loud minority of irate parents who complained...

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Education News Top Story

“Grossly negligent” NC charter school given 10 days to correct problems or face steep sanctions

Citing “grossly negligent” oversight of Torchlight Academy’s exceptional children program, the State Board of Education on Thursday placed the Raleigh charter school on Level 3 governance probationary status, which gives it 10 days to correct problems or risk further sanctions such as charter revocation.  Torchlight must submit all documents to the Office of Charter Schools (OCS) by Jan. 5 showing that all compliance issues are corrected. The State Board will discuss the school at its Jan. 6 meeting. The K-8 school enrolls approximately 570 students and is managed by charter operator Don McQueen.  

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Education Top Story

State regulators urge placing Raleigh-based charter school on probation for failure to comply with state and federal requirements

Review of Torchlight Academy uncovers "altered documents," other failures in serving exceptional children State program monitors scrutinizing Torchlight Academy, a charter school in Raleigh, found “altered documents” while reviewing data related to exceptional children, according to state officials.  These and other findings prompted the Charter School Advisory Board on Tuesday ...

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Education Top Story

Proposed charter school’s application slowed by link to troubled management firm

Previous "compliance" issues of Torchlight Academy Schools, LLC leads advisory board to question proposal for Perquimans County charter A charter school Tony Riddick plans to open in Perquimans County and name after his mother, Elaine Riddick, the best-known victim of North Carolina’s now-defunct eugenics program, has hit a snag because of his relationship with Don McQueen, the operator of Torchlight Academy in Raleigh.

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