Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Case for Closing The Academy of Moore County Charter School

Blue Ribbon Commission Charter School Report to the North Carolina State Board of Education — January 2008
The State Board of Education should develop a more diagnostic process of oversight to enable timely response to poor-performing schools (rather than 5-10 years). A school that demonstrates low growth and low performance should be reviewed and the results of the review should determine subsequent state action relative to the school. A charter school that has low growth and low performance should be given one year to demonstrate improvement or be closed.
Commission members did not take into consideration at the time of their report that state action to shut down a failing charter school would be subject to litigation.

It is a matter of parental and public concern that corporate boards refuse to relinquish charters for substandard schools. If this legal maneuver becomes commonplace, state officials will have no reason to intervene.

The Academy of Moore County v. N. C. Board of Education, 10EDC 2481

The State Board of Education revoked The Academy of Moore County charter in March 2010. This action prompted a lawsuit on the part of the charter holder, Neighborhood Youth Leadership, Inc. The complaint was filed by the Shanahan Law Group.

Kieran Shanahan, lawyer for the plaintiff  Neighborhood Youth Leadership, Inc. d/b/a The Academy of Moore County, advised Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison, Jr. that the state's decision to close the charter school was "arbitrary and capricious."

Assistant Attorney General Laura Crumpler disputed the Shanahan argument by saying:
The state's contention is that we have an obligation to protect these children and they are not being protected in this environment. They are much better off going back to their home [public] schools, rather than being in this school.
Judge Morrison's reaction to The Academy of Moore County revocation was, "It's a death penalty— you're taking their charter."

Loss of charter is a concern for the Academy of Moore County governing board since they are responsible for repaying a $2.2 million federally-guaranteed school construction loan.

It is not known how much the Neighborhood Youth Leadership board paid the Shanahan Law Firm to defend its business charter.

Settlement Agreement August 2010
II. Obligations
A. The State Board of Education agrees to:
1. Renew the AMC charter effective July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011; and
2. Upon determination by the Division of Accountability Services at the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) during 2011 that AMC has either achieved 70% proficiency on the state tests or made at least Expected Growth, the charter will be extended through June 30, 2015, provided AMC is otherwise in compliance with the terms and conditions of its charter.
The Academy of Moore County NC Report Card 2010-2011

For the 2010-2011 term there were 191 K-8 students enrolled in The Academy of Moore County. The school made adequate yearly progress—60 to 80% of students were at grade level, so the Neighborhood Youth Leadership corporate board will be allowed to manage the school until the end of its 2015 charter.

Neighborhood Youth Leadership, Inc. D. B. A. The Academy of Moore County

The Academy of Moore County [originally named Mast School Inc.] was opened in 1997 by Martha Heinz, a Southern Pines business woman. The corporation licensed to conduct business for the Academy of Moore County is Neighborhood Youth Leadership, Inc. This corporate entity also operates the Sandhills Theatre Arts Renaissance School. [STARS]  The Sandhills Theatre Arts Renaissance School Student Handbook states
This was NYL's second foray into the world of charter schools in Moore County, and the growing success of this school is due in large part to Heinz and the board's chairman, community activist and pastor Fred Walden.
The mission of the Neighborhood Youth Leadership, Inc. board is the education of children.

Neighborhood Youth Leadership, Inc. board as of October 2008 ( name, occupation and years served )

Brad Poplyk, President
Golf Pro
Don Goulet, Vice-President
Kay Howery, Treasurer
Bank Manager, Four Oaks Community Bank, 105 Commerce Ave, Southern Pines, NC
Joyce Scarlett, Secretary
Sandhills Food Bank, Sandy Ave, Southern Pines, NC 28387
Caroline Eddy
Executive Director for Coalition for Human Care
Calvin Howell
Al Warren
David Yoder
Financial Advisor

The Academy of Moore County Charter School Audit— 2007

Corporations holding school charters are subject to examination every decade. Audits are required to ensure that these privately-managed public schools are making appropriate use of state and local education funds.

The NYL, Inc/ Academy of Moore County audit revealed multi-year financial deficits, low student achievement and shortage of fully licensed/highly qualified teachers. As a consequence the State Board of Education refused a second ten-year charter and limited the board to a three-year operating term. As noted in the introduction, the state notified the charter holder that it intended to close the school at the end of the 2010 term.

The Academy of Moore County Charter School Federal Loan

U. S. Senator Elizabeth Dole notified the Neighborhood Youth Leadership board in 2008 that the USDA would guarantee 90% of its proposed $2.2 million school construction loan. In 2008 The Academy of Moore County had 154 low-performing students. First Bank was selected to handle the details.

U. S. Representative Howard Coble was responsible for the $2.1 million USDA loan extended to the Sandhills Theatre Arts Renaissance School in 2005. As referenced, this charter school is also owned and operated by the Neighborhood Youth Leadership board. The Sandhills Theatre Arts Renaissance School had 157 K-8
low-performing students in 2005.

Rep. Coble's reason for supporting this charter school venture:
It is obvious that STARS is doing an outstanding job of providing an arts-based educational opportunity to many students in and around the 6th District who might otherwise not have such an opportunity. I am thrilled that USDA approved the STARS loan requests.
The Academy of Moore County Charter School Student Accountability Performance Report for Math and English 2004-2009:

Year      Performance Composite     Met Growth       Met AYP
03/04     80.3                                   Yes                    Yes
04/05     62.3                                    No                     No
05/06     55.8                                    No                     Yes
06/07     53.4                                    No                      No
07/08     35.8 (LP)*                          No                      No
08/09     46.1                                    Yes                     Yes
*Low Performing Designation
Note: The Academy of Moore County is addressing Low Performing status through the implementation of NWEA MAP. The Academy submitted an action plan in October of 2008 to address our Low Performing status/Non Proficiency status

The No Child Left Behind Act [2001] intends that public school children in all states be competent in reading and mathematics by the 2013-14 school year.

Neighborhood Youth Leadership, Inc. Board's Primary Use of Education Funds for The Academy of Moore County Charter School 2005-2011:

Expenditures 2010-2011: Salaries 50%, Vendors 30%
Expenditures 2009-2010: Salaries 47%, Vendors 31%
Expenditures 2008-2009: Salaries 22%, Vendors 10%, Equipment 61%
Expenditures 2007-2008: Salaries 55%, Vendors 26%
Expenditures 2006-2007: Salaries 58%, Vendors 22%
Expenditures 2005-2006: Salaries 53%, Vendors 24%
Expenditures 2004-2005: Salaries 58%, Vendors 19%

Neighborhood Youth Leadership, Inc. Board's Employment Practices for The Academy of Moore County Charter School 2004-2011

2010-2011— Fully Licensed Teachers 92%
Highly Qualified Teachers  86%

2009-2010—Fully Licensed Teachers 83%
Highly Qualified Teachers  89%

2008-2009—Fully Licensed Teachers 80%
Highly Qualified Teachers  63%

2007-2008— Fully Licensed Teachers 67%
Highly Qualified Teachers  93%

2006-2007— Fully Licensed Teachers 73%,
Highly Qualified Teachers  69%

2005-2006— Fully Licensed Teachers 71%
Highly Qualified Teachers  46%

2004-2005— Fully Licensed Teachers 88%
Highly Qualified Teachers  50%

2003-2004— Fully Licensed Teachers 75% 
Highly Qualified Teachers  31%

The No Child Left Behind Act defines a “highly qualified teacher” as one with full certification, a bachelor’s degree and demonstrated competence in subject knowledge and teaching.

No comments: