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Outspoken charter school leader is named chief of staff overseeing NC public schools

Superintendent Mark Johnson’s message to educators

VIDEO: In his first message for 2018, NC Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Mark Johnson asks educators to share their thoughts on post-secondary options for students through the NC Educator's Perspective Survey.
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VIDEO: In his first message for 2018, NC Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Mark Johnson asks educators to share their thoughts on post-secondary options for students through the NC Educator's Perspective Survey.

State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson has hired an outspoken charter school leader and advocate to be chief of staff of the agency that oversees North Carolina’s public schools.

Johnson announced Friday that Joseph Maimone will be the new chief of staff at the state Department of Public Instruction. Maimone recently resigned as headmaster of Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, a charter school he founded and led in Rutherford County for nearly 20 years.

Maimone has also served since 2013 on the N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Board, which makes recommendations on which charter schools to approve and close. He was inducted into the N.C. Alliance of Charter Schools Hall of Fame in 2011.

“Joe has the management expertise and the background in K-12 education to help us continue the process of making this department function best,” Johnson said in a written statement. “I am happy to have him join the team of professionals who make up the Department of Public Instruction.”

Maimone has been a vocal defender of charter schools, which are taxpayer funded schools that are exempt from some of the rules and regulations that traditional public schools must follow.

In 2016, Maimone accused the media of being biased against charter schools for highlighting data from a state report indicating charters are less diverse than district schools.

In March, Maimone charged that traditional public schools are “milking” the federal government by serving subsidized meals to students who don’t need them — such as children of doctors and lawyers. Charter schools are not required to serve meals.

Maimone will start his new job Monday. Maimone said at the Oct. 8 charter advisory board meeting that, pending an official legal position, he planned to remain on the group but would now become a non-voting member.

Maimone replaces Lindsey Wakely, who was deputy general counsel to former Gov. Pat McCrory and former legal counsel to a company run by conservative businessman Art Pope. Wakely left DPI to become associate general counsel in the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui
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