New NC policy gives charter applicants 2 shots at approval

NC Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey
NC Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey Robert Willett

Charter school applications on the verge of State Board of Education rejection will get a second chance at life under a policy approved Thursday.

The change comes after an uproar last year when the state board, amid concerns about charters that failed soon after opening, rejected five of 13 applications for new schools its Charter School Advisory Board had recommended.

The advisory board vets charter applications and forwards those it supports to the full state board.

The state board had rejected advisory board recommendations before, but these five votes triggered persistent complaints from charter-school advocates and advisory-board members. In response, the advisory board passed a resolution highlighting individual members’ expertise and all the work they did to vet the applicants, and ordered it delivered to state board members and legislators.

The state board policy adopted Thursday will allow charter applications headed for denial to go back to the advisory board for another review. After a quick turnaround, those applications will get another crack at state board approval.

State Board Chairman Bill Cobey said Thursday that the board did not feel pressured to adopt the new policy.

“We have a great deal of respect for the Charter School Advisory Board,” Cobey said, referring to the advisory board members as experts.

“That doesn’t mean that we’re always going to agree with them,” he said. “We are the ones that have to own it. We feel a great deal of responsibility.”

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner