Board Elects New Chairman
Special Report - March 9, 2009
The State Board of Education met last week to elect Bill Harrison as the new Board Chairman, discuss renewal of school charters and review a consolidated report on crime in North Carolina public schools. Harrison election as Chairman of the State Board of Education by fellow board members followed his appointment by Governor Beverly Perdue as Chief Executive Officer of the state’s public school system. The new CEO position was created by Gov. Perdue in an attempt to consolidate power over North Carolina’s public school system. Harrison, a recent co-chair of the Education Lottery Oversight Committee, has spent 34 years in NC’s public schools.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, who was re-elected in a statewide race last November, is considering filing a lawsuit challenging the new CEO position held by Harrison in addition to his position as Chairman of the State Board of Education. According to Article IX Section 4 of the State Constitution “The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall be the secretary and chief administrative officer of the State Board of Education.” Atkinson sees the move to strip her of the little remaining authority she had as a violation of the Constitution that “usurps the will of the voters who granted me the privilege to serve.” She vowed in a statement “not to abdicate [her] constitutional and statutory responsibilities.”
After postponing a decision on the renewal of Torchlight Academy’s charter, the Board decided to extend the charter for two years through June 2011, contingent upon Torchlight submitting a complete audit showing compliance by October 1 of each year, resolving current deficiencies and noncompliance by April 6, avoiding any more warnings from the Office of Charter Schools or the Board for the duration of the charter, and submitting a plan for restructuring by April 6 of this year. The decision leaves Provisions School in Lee County as the only charter school up for renewal this year that was denied renewal by the State Board. Four low performing charter schools presented Corrective Action Plans put into place in the fall. Haliwa-Sponi Tribal School, Healthy Start Academy, The Academy of Moore County, and PreEminent Charter School implemented a new program to test students four times a year to predict End of Grade test scores and ABC growth throughout the year, in an attempt to better address student needs before too much time passes. Over a third of North Carolina’s charter schools use the MAP program voluntarily.
For the first time, the Board received a consolidated report of data on school crime and violence, suspensions, expulsions, and dropout rates. The intent is to have relevant data in an easily comparable format to better make policy decisions based on correlation of various data. The 200708 Consolidated Data Report found that the rate of school crime and violence as well as long-term suspensions and expulsions increased during the 200708 school year. The percentage of crimes considered to be violent dropped 3.6 percent. Eighty-five percent of all crimes in school involved possession of controlled substances, weapons excluding firearms and powerful explosives, or alcoholic beverages. Short-term suspensions and the dropout rate declined during the 200708 school year with and average of one in 10 students receiving a short-term suspension and 4.97 percent of all high school students dropping out. Ninth grade males were found to be at the highest risk for dropping out, being suspended or expelled, and committing acts of crime or violence at school. Yadkin County was the only school system with comparatively low rates in all three categories.
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