charter schools

charter schools

Education News Top Story

Demise of mismanaged charter school leaves some lamenting the loss

The state is closing Raleigh's Torchlight Academy because of repeated and serious management failures, but some of its strengths and accomplishments will be lost in the process Carla Peralta cried after getting the word that Torchlight Academy is closing due to fiscal and governance concerns uncovered during a state Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) investigation.

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Education News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look charter schools in North Carolina

Few issues spark debate in North Carolina’s education circles like charter schools. Save for school vouchers and the state’s long-running Leandro school funding lawsuit, few topics that stir a higher level of passion. Supporters, many of whom are conservative voters, see charters as "school choice" options that help families looking to flee low-performing schools.

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Education News Top Story

Audits show lucrative family venture at soon-to-be shuttered charter school

Managing Raleigh's Torchlight Academy was a lucrative family venture for Don McQueen. The school paid McQueen nearly $3 million in management fees between 2016 and 2020, financial audits submitted by the school show.  The Raleigh businessman ran the K-8 charter school with a reported 600 students (state officials could only confirm 489 during a recent on-site headcount) through his educational management organization (EMO), Torchlight Academy Schools, LLC.

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Education News Top Story

Repeated and serious management failures highlighted in recommendation to shutter once-promising charter school

State Board of Education is scheduled to consider recommendation to close Raleigh's Torchlight Academy Wednesday afternoon The state Charter School Advisory Board’s recommendation to close Torchlight Academy in Raleigh on Monday represented a dramatic fall from grace for Don McQueen, the owner of the firm managing the 23-year-old school.

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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

“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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Education Top Story

More public schools are on the chopping block in Granville County

Traditional school enrollment losses translate to charter school gains in rural district  Unable to stop the flight of students to area charter schools, ...
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Education News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at charter schools in North Carolina

The charter school movement began in earnest in North Carolina in 1997 when 34 schools opened across the state. There are now 200 charter schools in operation.  The 1996 Charter School Act that established the system of tuition free, public schools that are not bound by many of the rules as traditional public schools was sponsored by Sen. Wib Gulley, a Democrat from Durham and Rep. Steve Wood, a Guilford County Republican.

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Education Top Story

Charter school waitlist data is inflated; exact number of students is unknown

A report touting 76,000 names on charter school waiting lists across North Carolina could give the wrong impression about demand for charters. It’s true that interest and enrollment have grown in charters, which are public schools but free of many of the rules and regulations traditional public schools must follow.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

During National School Choice Week, the case for anti-racism in North Carolina’s educational system

Unless we acknowledge and address the racist history of school choice, we will perpetuate it.

It's National School Choice Week. Following a year of reinvigorated examination of the history and current role of racial oppression in American institutions, like policing and elections, this week provides all parents, educators, administrators and advocates a worthwhile opportunity to likewise reflect upon the historical role of race and racism in the school choice movement. 

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Education Top Story

State Board of Education unanimously revokes struggling Rowan County school’s charter

State education officials will help place students in other schools for 2021-22 academic year A tardy audit submission in late December couldn’t save Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School.  The State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously voted to revoke the Rowan County school’s charter because its leaders failed to submit required financial audits for 2019 and 2020 on time.

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Education Top Story

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos heads for the exits, leaving a legacy of turmoil

WASHINGTON—In four years in office, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos failed to broaden her appeal beyond the moment she won a wild Senate confirmation fight by the closest of margins. She didn’t even try. Instead, the billionaire Michigan native and Republican megadonor championed private and charter schools, often trying to funnel federal funding toward them. Her full-throated support outraged Democrats in Congress, riled the nation’s powerful teachers unions and never registered as a major priority for the Trump administration.

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