Torchlight Academy

Torchlight Academy

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

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

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 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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