Two schools fight possible takeover by charter school operator

RALEIGH, N.C. — The State Department of Public Instruction shortened its list of schools under consideration from 48 to six. They are:

  • Durham Public Schools – Glenn Elementary
  • Durham Public Schools – Lakewood Elementary
  • Nash-Rocky Mount Schools – Williford Elementary
  • Northampton County Schools – Willis Hare Elementary
  • Robeson County Schools – R B Dean Elementary
  • Robeson County Schools – Southside Ashpole Elementary

However, the two Durham County schools are fighting back against joining North Carolina’s new Innovative School District. The ISD, formerly known as the Achievement School District, will take five struggling schools from across the state and turn the mananement of them over to charter school operators. These operators will manage and run the schools in an effort to improve their academic performance. Two schools will be chosen this year and three next year.

Durham Public Schools Board of Education Chairman Mike Lee said “our school board and the Durham community will not quietly accept an experimental takeover of our schools by a charter management organization.”

Even if a district asks not to participate, if a school is chosen and declines to participate  by law it must close its doors and shut down.

If a school does participate their local school boards will no longer have a say in the staffing, instruction or other educational matters at those schools. Yet the school boards will still be responsible for maintaining the buildings, making sure they have the appropriate furniture and equipment and continuing to provide transportation for the students.

Lakewood Elementary and the other five schools are being considered because their performance scores are among the lowest 5 percent in the state. The State Board of Education will make the final determination, most likely in December.