Charter School Update

Published October 1, 2001

Although charter school developers in Illinois may appeal a local denial to the State Board of Education, the state board has seen fit to overturn local denials only in two early cases.

The Emerson Park Development Corporation has twice appealed to the ISBE after the Tomorrow’s Builders Charter School was denied twice by East St. Louis School District 189.

After denial by both District 189 and ISBE last year, the school’s vocational program this year was developed jointly with District 189. However, District 189 suddenly denied the charter application when it was put to a vote in June. The second appeal was to have taken place in late August.

Illinois Charter School Facs
August 6, 2001

Missouri Sets New Guidelines

Facilities and lack of funding for facilities are the greatest hurdles to start-up charter schools nationwide. New guidelines from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) have raised those hurdles for Missouri charter schools, which now must secure an approved facility within 90 days of charter approval or have their charter revoked. Under such draconian restrictions, some schools may never open.

The Garden School, for example, a school for 160 K-3 students sponsored by the Missouri Botanical Garden and Southeast Missouri State University, was approved last September. But it was unsuccessful in securing a facility in the Garden neighborhood and so will not open. The Construction Careers Charter School will be the only new St. Louis charter school opening this fall, bringing the total to five.

A group of frustrated charter school supporters–mostly parents–met in St. Louis in late July to vent their anger at the lack of progress in creating charter schools in the city, where more than a dozen applications have been turned back. Public universities are authorized to approve charter schools but are refusing to do so because the state did not provide them with funds to pay for oversight.

“I’m probably more frustrated by how difficult it is for new charters to gain passage than about any other issue since I left office,” former State Senator Frank Flotron told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Flotron helped design Missouri’s charter school law.

DESE’s charter schools division also is calling for the state’s charter schools to increase their percentage of Missouri-certified teachers from 80 percent to 100 percent. At the same time–in response to a growing teacher shortage–DESE’s Division of Teacher Quality and Urban Education is calling for reducing the demand for certified teachers in the state’s public schools by adopting alternative certification requirements similar to those authorized for Missouri’s charter schools.

Illinois Charter School Facs
August 1, 2001
July 25, 2001

Ohio Charter Schools Get Subpoenas

All 68 charter schools in Ohio have been served with subpoenas in the Ohio Federation of Teachers’ challenge of that state’s charter law. School officials were given 30 days to provide “any and all” of their records, including financial and confidential personnel records.

The Ohio Community School Center filed and was granted an extension for the schools, but records are still scheduled to be delivered into the teacher union’s hands by early October, adding a significant burden on charters as they prepare for the new school year.

Charter school proponents warn that allowing access to personnel records would enable the OFT to engage in a campaign of harassment against teachers working at the charters.

Center for Education Reform Newswire
August 7, 2001

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