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Mon and Preston BOEs Will Meet to Rule on Charter Application After Deeply Flawed Evaluation Process

Today the Monongalia and Preston County school boards will hold separate meetings to render decisions on our charter application. The charter application review process was established under the law in such a way that county school boards are required to work with charter applicants in a clear and transparent manner to produce high quality charter schools that serve the needs of their communities and students. However, instead of working with our organization and elevating our proposed application, these school boards will vote on our application without ever even meeting our governing board and several weeks after the deadline for rendering such a decision has passed. We have made our objections known from the beginning and yet, the boards have still followed a deeply flawed process leaving the critical evaluation responsibilities to one man who has an obvious conflict of interest.

Why do Superintendents have a clear conflict of interest in the charter application process? Placing a superintendent over evaluating a charter application is like putting the Police Chief in charge of reviewing a proposal for police reform. In their mind, they are doing everything right and no one can compete with perfection. So allowing someone with such an obvious conflict of interest to insert themselves into administering the process means the outcome was determined before the review process even began.

Today, Superintendent Campbell will present his views on the "deficiencies" in our charter application and then, almost certainly, recommend rejection. If Dr. Campbell’s prior actions and statements made to the press are any indication, he will not pull any punches and will likely repeat inaccurate statements about our organization and the research that supports our programs. For instance, Dr. Campbell has repeatedly stated that our school offers nothing new even though we will be the first core knowledge school with direct instruction, the first International Baccalaureate middle years program, and the first public school to offer a balanced calendar in either Mon or Preston county. Yet, we are not even permitted to attend the meeting, so any statements Dr. Campbell makes in this meeting will go unchecked before the board votes. This scenario was carefully planned out by Dr. Campbell back in May of this year when he rammed through a policy that placed himself at the center of the review process and shielded the school board from any interaction with us. In fact, he was very adamant about the school board not attending our interview so that they will have little choice but to follow his recommendation. This was a bold move considering superintendents are not even mentioned once in the hundreds of pages of laws and regulations for West Virginia charter schools.

At the end of the day, any statements made by Dr. Campbell about our charter school or our organization will likely have no impact on the outcome of our application and therefore, should be taken with a healthy grain of salt. Due to their flawed process, the respective boards must be aware that our approval is imminent. This begs the question of why they are holding these meetings at all at this point. We suspect the meetings are being conducted primarily to provide a platform for the superintendents to discredit our charter school. This is an alternative path to defeating school choice in our community. If parents feel pause about our school based on alleged deficiencies or negative statements made about our organization in these meetings, which will certainly be repeated by the press afterwards, then demand could wane preventing our charter school from opening even after it is eventually approved.

In the coming days, we intend to post responses to any alleged deficiencies that are raised by Dr. Campbell in today's meeting so that parents have all the valid information and can decide for themselves what is best for their child's education when our charter application is ultimately approved. While we would have preferred a collaborative review process where we work together with and not against the school boards, we will accept the default approval because we believe parents rather than district bureaucrats should be the ultimate decision-makers with respect to their children's education. We greatly look forward to the day our application is approved and school choice is a reality in our community.

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