Mon County School Board Ignored Facts to Find that WVA Board of Governors Lacks Expertise
One of the deficiencies the Monongalia County School board relied upon to attempt to reject our charter application after it had already been accepted by default was that our governing board supposedly lacks the required qualifications and expertise under the law. This is completely inaccurate because our governing board meets both the actual requirements under the law as well as the additional requirements that the school board crafted at the last minute to attempt to discredit our organization.
The law actually requires that governing boards "collectively possess expertise in leadership, curriculum and instruction, law, and finance." Our governing board clearly meets all of these requirements as we have a solid team of individuals with experience as law professors, CPAs, business leaders, leaders in higher education, and a West Virginia certified K-12 teacher. Our governing board is not only highly credentialed, but has decades of experience in some key areas that are relevant to running a charter school. For example, I have experience personally as a teacher in both traditional public schools as well as in a charter school. Another member of our board has served on executive committees and governing boards of non-profit organizations for many years. There is no credible argument that our governing board lacks the expertise that is required under the law or that would be necessary for a successful charter school. The board of education simply ignored facts that were clearly stated in our application to fabricate a deficiency in this area.
Specifically, the Monongalia County Board of Education falsely stated that our organization "lacks expertise in running a not-for-profit and leading a school" and also raised concerns over our human resources expertise in its rejection letter. None of these things are specific requirements under the law to begin with, but, even if they were, our governing board has expertise in every single one of these areas. This expertise was clearly documented in the governance and compliance section of our application.
Our President, John Treu, actually meets all three of these requirements on his own. He has education leadership experience and advised not-for-profit entities for years as an attorney and a member of executive teams for non-profit entities. He also advised various businesses and governmental agencies on human resource needs including employment contracts, employee benefits, and the hiring and firing of employees and he founded an online education company where he was responsible for all human resources functions. Susan Dull, another board member, worked for over a decade as a CPA at big four accounting firms advising tax-exempt organizations on their tax filing responsibilities. The school board making a finding that our governing board "lacks expertise in running a not-for-profit" is like Jim Carey telling Michael Jordan that he lacks expertise in the game of basketball. It's comical.
It's as if the Monongalia County School Board failed to even read our application before determining that our governing board was lacking in these areas. However, even in instances like this where the school board misses critical information in the application, a clear process was laid out to resolve these types of misunderstandings. The law requires that the members of the two boards of education for Preston and Monongalia County actually meet with our governing board to conduct an in person interview to seek clarification on any concerns or deficiencies and then also provide us with written feedback specifically identifying deficiencies that gives us the opportunity to make corrections. Unfortunately, those critical steps in the process never happened as our only communications were with district employees that were not the final decision maker. These were not minor technicalities in the review process, but major aspects of the review process itself. We expect better of our elected officials that fill a critical role on the school board and we are disappointed with these and other false and improper statements made in the school board's rejection letter.