The state has received dozens of complaints about a Wake Forest charter school’s board of directors, which some parents and teachers accuse of being unprofessional, secretive and dishonest.
The state Department of Public Instruction looked into complaints about Envision Science Academy and determined there was no reason to launch an official investigation, said Vanessa Jeter, a spokeswoman for DPI.
But some parents are still hoping to see a change at the school.
“Board members are role models for our children and what they did didn’t set a good example,” said Envision parent Andy Lowery. “I would like to see people step down from the board and have an (open process) to get new people on there.”
Parents and teachers sent almost 100 emails to the state since the beginning of the school year, public records show. In some emails, people accused board members of not being transparent, meeting in secret and trying to intimidate teachers and school staff.
Complaints became more urgent when former Envision principal Steve Pond resigned April 24.
Pond told the state that the board forced him to quit. Members said they would fire him if he did not step down, Pond wrote in an email to DPI education consultant Shannon Sellers. The email, along with dozens of others, was obtained through a public records request.
“They already had my resignation letter and agreement typed up that already determined that was going to be the decision,” Pond wrote. “What a sham.”
Envision opened last fall and offers a STEAM education that focuses on science, technology, arts and math. The school has about 250 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The school is in good financial and academic standing with the state, according to the Office of Charter Schools.
Envision’s board of directors declined to comment about the complaints. But the board has announced it would begin the process of hiring a permanent principal, and is accepting applications for additional board members.
“The board’s primary focus is on the safety, security and academic achievement of its students,” the board wrote in a May 5 news release from the school’s board.
A teacher at Envision emailed the state in December and urged DPI to investigate the school’s board of directors.
The email accused a board member of interfering with teachers and bullying administrators.
Staff surveys from October highlight conflicts between school staff and the board.
“Several board members have questioned teachers and become confrontational with the staff and belittled them,” one teacher wrote in the survey.
Some teachers said they were worried about the amount of money they were required to spend on materials and supplies. They also said they were concerned the board was too hands-on in the everyday operations of the school.
“I feel very supported by the administrators at the school but it does not feel as though some of the Board supports us as classroom teachers or understands how a school works,” one teacher wrote.
Parents are waiting to see what’s next for the school.
“I really believe in the vision and know that (the school) has so much potential,” parent Bridget Knouse said in an email to the state. “I also know that there is little hope for success with the current board of directors dictating things.”
Lowery, who has two children at Envision, said he is unsure whether they will return to the school in August.
“My largest concern is that they don’t have the best interest of all the children,” Lowery said of the school’s board. “There’s too much secrecy going on.”