Kaleidoscope Charter High School is getting an unexpected second shot at presenting its case to the state’s Charter Schools Advisory Board when the school’s organizers thought their efforts to launch Morrisville’s first charter high school were over for the application cycle.
On Monday, a subcommittee of the charter school board took the unprecedented action of reversing its January decision, which rejected Kaleidoscope’s application.
Kaleidoscope Charter High School, which is applying for a charter school for the fourth time, initially was denied by the subcommittee Jan. 12 in a 4-2 vote.
But when the subcommittee convened March 6, Steve Walker made a motion to rescind that decision, which passed.
Then, a second motion was made in favor of advancing the application for an interview in front of the full board. It passed by a 6-4 vote.
Margaret Broadwell, a former mayor of Morrisville and supporter of Kaleidoscope, said she was told it was the first time the advisory board had ever reversed a decision.
Janet Littlejohn, president of Kaleidoscope’s board of directors, said she hopes they didn’t set a precedent for other schools that had been denied.
“I hope I didn’t open up a can of worms,” added Janet Littlejohn, president of Kaleidoscope’s board of directors. “That was one of the concerns, that if they had the revote, that if any school didn’t get through the phase we went through, they should go for an appeal.”
Charter schools are publicly funded receive public funds and don’t charge tuition. While they aren’t restricted by many of the guidelines traditional public schools follow, the state conducts a rigorous approval process before a school can open.
In February, Kaleidoscope’s backers got word that one of the subcommittee members who initially rejected their application had decided to revisit the decision. Littlejohn, Broadwell and others set about soliciting letters and emails from residents to send to the committee members in support of a high school in Morrisville, which doesn’t currently have one in its town limits.
The Morrisville Town Council passed a resolution in support of the school at its Feb. 28 meeting.
The full interview will take place this spring, Littlejohn said. Before then, members of Kaleidoscope’ boards will meet and discuss feedback given during this year’s proceedings and those in prior years. Most recently, Kaleidoscope’s application was criticized for not setting rigorous enough proficiency standards. In past years, advisory board members criticized the application’s lack of specificity about how each school day would be conducted.
Kaleidoscope’s mission is centered around student-directed learning, a concept similar to what is practiced at Morrisville’s Sterling Montessori Academy. Littlejohn said it can be difficult to explain the operational specifics of that style in the context of traditional education standards.
Littlejohn said she is happy with the result, but still isn’t pleased with how her school’s application had been treated.
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan