NC charter school's plan questioned, won't open
North Carolina school officials on Thursday withdrew their preliminary approval for a Charlotte charter school to open in August because it copied big chunks of its operating plans from another school's application.
The state Board of Education voted without comment to deny the bid by Cameron Creek Charter School to operate with taxpayer money while approving two dozen other new charter schools to open for the next academic year. Charter schools operate free of many rules governing other public schools and are run by independent nonprofit boards.
The state school board last year gave preliminary approval to 25 schools including Cameron Creek. But apparent copying in the school's application was identified last month, and the state's Charter School Advisory Council revoked its support.
During state school board discussions Wednesday, state Office of Charter Schools Director Joel Medley was asked what made Cameron Creek's actions different from borrowing boiler plate language all applicants for a charter school.
Medley said he warned potential charter school operators during a training session more than a year ago that they had to explain how they planned to offer a distinct educational experience, and that copy-and-paste application wouldn't pass muster.
"What I told them is this application has to be mission-based. It's going to be your student population so it has to be your plan," Medley said.
The Cameron Creek application apparently lifted big parts of another group's failed application without even replacing the name of the other proposed charter school. State school officials found that Cameron Creek largely copied dozens of pages of descriptions of its goals, performance measures, education plan, management, and admission policy.
Cameron Creek spokeswoman Sylvia Cole did not return messages seeking comment Thursday.
Organizers of the proposed school officials said in letters to the state Department of Public Instruction that much of the material included in their application comes from public documents, and that rules for charter applications are unclear.