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Local News

State Charter Schools Review Board declines to renew charter for Gaston County school

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by Greg Childress, NC Newsline
March 11, 2024

The state Charter Schools Review Board on Monday voted unanimously to not renew the charter of Ridgeview Charter School in Gastonia due to poor academic performance.

Ridgeview is a K-9 school that serves some of Gaston County’s poorest children. Charter Schools review Board member Dave Machado (file photo)

The school opened in 2019, but only has two full years of academic data due to pandemic-related disruptions. It failed to meet academic growth in each of the two years.

Ridgeview was an ‘F’ school under the state’s school accountability model and has not posted academic outcomes comparable to the local school district. Ridgeview trailed the local school district’s academic performance by 36.4-percentage points at the conclusion the 2021-2022 academic year and 35.2-percentage points after the 2022-2023 school year.

Under state law, failure to post academic outcomes “comparable to the academic outcomes of students in the local school administrative unit in which the charter is located” is grounds for non-renewal.

“Any charter school that opened up around COVID time, I tend to try to show them a little more grace, but when you’re 35 [percentage points] below the LEA [local school district], that’s just hard to justify,” said Review Board member Dave Machado, the former director of the state Office of Charter Schools.

Review board Chairman Bruce Friend was concerned that only one of five Ridgeway board members showed up to fight to keep the school open during the review board’s February meeting. Friend also had concerns that a review of Ridgeway’s 2023 board meeting minutes “seem to be a lot of duplication from month-to-month.”

“The school’s governing board has demonstrated a lack of appropriate oversight, including but not limited to the majority of the board’s failure to attend and participate in renewal activities,” Friend said.

Under a new state law, the review board has assumed many of the oversight responsibilities the State Board of Education once held. It has the power to grant, amend, terminate and renew charter applications. Charter schools can appeal the review board’s decisions to the state board. The school’s charter expires June 30.

The review board rescheduled renewal votes for troubled Movement School Eastland in Charlotte and Children’s Village Academy in Kinston to allow time to gather more information. The board will vote on those renewals during its April meeting.

The state Department of Public Instruction has ordered Children’s Village to repay $162,597 in state and federal money it’s accused of misspending. Movement School’s renewal is also in jeopardy due to financial concerns.

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This story is republished from NC Newsline under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.