charter schools

charter schools

Education Top Story

Report: Decline in teachers with traditional education degrees linked to growth in charter schools

As charter schools proliferate across America, there has been a corresponding decline in the number of new teachers earning bachelor’s degrees in education from traditional educator preparation programs, according to a new study from the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH). Researchers Doug Harris, the national director of REACH, and Mary Penn, a research partner at the center, found that for every 10% increase in charter school enrollment...

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Monday numbers: A closer look at the academic performance of North Carolina’s charter schools

Last month, school accountability data from 2020-21 showed lower graduation rates, lower rates of proficiency on state tests and more schools designated as ...
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NC charter school managed by national for-profit firm cited for failure to serve students with disabilities

State says Cary’s Cardinal Charter Academy must offer compensatory education to children denied services required by federal law   Last August, Terri Schmitz’s ...
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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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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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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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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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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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