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PCSB Investigation into WVA Concludes with Dismissal of Most Allegations plus Some Corrective Actions

The West Virginia Public Charter School Board met today and James Paul, its executive director, provided the findings of his investigation into two complaints that were filed against West Virginia Academy back in February of this year.

All four of the allegations in the first complaint were dismissed with no corrective action required. The dismissed allegations related to our student discipline policies, the process for student handbook amendments, an allegation of an ethics act complaint, and an allegation of unsafe air quality. The PCSB found that the ethics act allegation was not properly before the PCSB for consideration and that the other three allegations lacked merit. Specifically, the PCSB confirmed that our student policies comply with our charter and also confirmed that official reports and data confirm that there are no problems with air quality in our building. The executive director of the PCSB he will make some non-binding recommendations for our governing board to consider as best practices going forward.

The second complaint had five allegations, each of which had multiple independent accusations of wrongdoing. The overwhelming majority of these accusations were found to lack merit and were dismissed with no action. However, the PCSB did make official findings in relation to two policies that need to be better documented as well as four recommendations for improved practices. The required policies and actions can and will be easily adopted without any disruption in the operations of our school.

The policy recommendations were procedural and not substantive as the corrective action simply requires that WVA formalize some of its existing practices into formal policies. Specifically, the board has completed its budget process each year and the PCSB determined that a written policy outlining this process is a technical requirement under the charter contract. The second issue related to WVA's grievance policy. In any instances where a formal grievance or other complaint has been filed against someone in our organization, WVA has followed appropriate practices to ensure that the person complained about is not part of either the investigative team or the decision-making process in relation to such complaint. The PCSB's corrective action is for WVA to formalize that practice by adding a specific whistleblower provision to its existing grievance policy.

The four specific findings in relation to practices are for WVA to: (i) provide official notice of cumulative voting in agendas, when applicable, (ii) decrease email correspondence among board members, (iii) more regularly forward budget updates to the PSCB, and (iv) provide additional formal training for governing board members. WVA is committed to complying with all of its obligations as a charter school and the technical corrective actions in relation to these policies and practices will be easily implemented with little fanfare.

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