Fast track rejected for Elaine Riddick Charter | Local
The State Board of Education has denied a request to expedite the application to Elaine Riddick Charter School in Perquimans County.
The expedited application process would have allowed the planned charter school to open in August.
The state’s Office of Charter Schools clarified Jan. 11 that the state Board of Education’s unanimous rejection of the expedited application at its Jan. 5 meeting means the school will have to submit a new apply for fast-track status in the next application round.
In its decision, the State Board of Education cited the recommendation of the Charter Schools Advisory Board, which recommended that the Riddick School’s fast-track application not be approved.
Despite the setback, school board president Elaine Riddick Charter said efforts to establish the school were continuing.
“Yes, of course we are obligated to our young people,” Riddick replied when asked if the school was still moving forward with opening plans. “We have been obligated and educating the young people of Perquimans since 2002.”
The Perquimans County School Board and the Perquimans County Superintendent of Schools sent letters to the North Carolina Charter Schools Office stating that the opening of the Elaine Riddick Charter School would have a negative financial impact on the school district.
Superintendent Tanya Turner said Perquimans County Schools will lose an estimated $591,120 in Riddick School’s first year of operation and $1,064,016 in its fifth year.
The letters from Turner and the school board also defended the school district’s own academic achievement record against the allegations made in the Riddick School’s charter application.
“The assertions made by Elaine Riddick Charter (in her application) are highly inaccurate and misleading,” Turner’s letter states. “Perquimans County has no underperforming schools.”
Perquimans County Schools Impact Statements also noted Torchlight Academy Schools involvement as a consultant for the Elaine Riddick charter school. Torchlight was the operator of Three Rivers Academy, the Bertie-based charter school closed by the State Board of Education on January 6. The school board’s decision follows a lengthy state investigation that found academic, fiscal and governance shortcomings at the school.
Responding in an Oct. 6 letter to state officials, Tony Riddick called Perquimans officials’ claims “erroneous.” He also said the immediate effect of the state school board’s decision is that “young people will continue to suffer educationally and parents will still have no choice of school in Perquimans County.” .
Riddick also gave his case for the charter school a national context.
“As the county continues to suffer, the nation as a whole will also suffer,” Riddick said. “There is a direct correlation between education and crime. Michelle Alexander writes extensively about this in her book “The New Jim Crow” – pipeline from school to prison. We know we can make a huge difference.
Riddick said the charter school team will continue to push to open Riddick School as soon as possible.
“We will continue to work very hard to try to impress upon the state the necessity and the urgency,” Riddick said. “It is very unfortunate that this case is solely in the hands of the state. That being said, openness is at the mercy of the state.
He also said it’s the charter school board’s hope “to have a positive working relationship with the local school district.”
Riddick also said that the Elaine Riddick Charter School plans to continue working with Don McQueen Schools and Torchlight Academy despite the state board’s decision to terminate Three Rivers Academy’s charter.
“Torchlight Academy has had a tremendous positive impact on students for nearly 20 years,” Riddick said. “Our board certainly sees Torchlight as part of the formula. Torchlight knows this terrain very well. When you combine the terrain with a support team that has taught a very diverse body of students, it becomes a very strong bond designed to produce a high yield.