RALEIGH — The State Board of Education on Thursday agreed to offer rejected charter-school applicants a second chance after two-thirds of those that wanted to open in 2015 were turned down by an advisory board.
The new Charter School Advisory Board had voted to give 20 of the 62 applicants an interview before the full panel, a step needed to keep their applications alive. Some of the 42 rejected applicants have complained, prompting the state board to hold a conference call Thursday to adopt the new appeal process.
“Out of fairness, we have talked about what we can do to give them an opportunity to appeal to us to clarify information,” said Becky Taylor, a state board member and a member of the advisory board.
The Charter School Advisory Board is charged with reviewing applicants and recommending to the state board which applicants should be approved. The General Assembly passed legislation last year creating the advisory board to replace a prior body. Legislators had said they wanted the new advisory board to consist of people who are supporters of charter schools.
Since February, subcommittees from the advisory board have been reviewing and interviewing the 62 applicants. After hearing the subcommittee recommendations, the full board voted on which applicants should get another interview.
The rejection of so many applicants prompted the N.C. Public Charter Schools Association to accuse the advisory board of erecting a “brick wall.” Eddie Goodall, the association’s executive director, said the state board needed to act.
“I applaud the state board for recognizing that something is wrong here and trying to correct this,” he said.
Under the new policy that only applies to schools that want to open in 2015, applicants who were denied an interview can request reconsideration by the advisory board.
Charter schools are taxpayer-funded schools that are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow.
There are 126 charter schools open in North Carolina. In January, the state board gave final approval to 26 new charter schools to open this year. But some of the approved schools are requesting permission to wait until next year to open.