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County Board Ignored Charter School's IB Program in Bad Faith

Prior to the improper, but not unexpected, denial of West Virginia Academy's charter application, the school board for Monongalia county attempted to discredit our charter application based on several alleged deficiencies. A key issue raised many times in the meeting was the assertion that our programs would not add anything new to the programs currently offered in that public system. This statement is demonstrably false as our application would introduce several innovations over the current public school offerings, but the support presented in the meeting to suggest we would not offer anything new was actually achieved in part through bad faith actions taken by the committee itself.

For example, as a school we will be offering the first International Baccalaureate program in either Monongalia or Preston County. This matters because, unlike AP classes where students can earn college credit that is typically only accepted in the United States, the IB program is internationally recognized and so students can earn college credit that is accepted at colleges throughout the world. Many families in our community are citizens of other countries that have come to reside and work in one of the two major hospital systems, as faculty or staff at WVU, or in the pharmaceutical industry. If a family in this situation wants their child to return to their native land to go to college, then the AP programs do not serve that family's needs in the way that an IB program would. As such, an IB program will provide a particularly important benefit to a historically underserved population.

The school board members ignored this benefit by suggesting that our IB was essentially equivalent to the current AP programs they already offer, but they also discredited our organization's ability to deliver such a program through some highly unethical tactics. Our organization had already completed a review process with the IB accrediting body (the IBO) and we received a letter of support that was included as addendum 5 to our application. It appears that when our application was scanned in and distributed to the committee, the page including that letter was not scanned properly. We made three hard copies of our application and our copy has the letter of support, so we do not believe this letter was missing due to a printing error. The committee likely made a key finding of a deficiency in our application based on their own inability to scan in our application properly.

However, even if we assumed it was a printing error on our part, then the committee had at least three opportunities to mention that the page was missing so we could provide them with a copy of the letter. If a page that is obviously supposed to be in a filing is missing, it's just basic human decency to contact the applicant to get the missing page upon discovery that a page that is obviously supposed to be included is missing. Even if the committee did not view this as their job, there were two more opportunities to mention the missing page where we would have happily provided a copy. In the interview with the committee we had a hard copy of the letter with us that we could have easily produced if they had simply indicated that they didn't have the letter in their electronic version. Lastly, when the superintendent sent us a deficiency letter, he made no mention that the letter of support was missing from his copy of our application. At this point, it's not just about decorum, a deficiency letter is required to include specific detail of all deficiencies and so they were obligated under the law to mention the missing page and chose not to. Instead, the committee used the missing letter, that was likely their own fault, as one of the key reasons our application was alleged to be deficient.

This is what bad faith looks like in the review process conducted by the committee. We hope that parents will not trust the judgement of a committee that is willing to engage in such unethical practices when they attempt to discredit our organization. We believe the letter of support from the IBO speaks for itself to validate our organization's ability to deliver a high quality IB program.

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