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FIRST ON 3: Mitchell quits NC Charter School Advisory Board

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Amid controversy and a federal investigation, Roger Bacon Academy founder Baker Mitchell has resigned from the state's Charter School Advisory Board.

His resignation letter submitted to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger Wednesday says after reviewing his commitments to other organizations and challenges in the upcoming months, Mitchell feels the Senate should appoint someone else who can devote more time

The Charter School Advisory Board makes recommendations to the State Board of Education on the adoption of rules regarding all aspects of charter school operation, including time lines, standards, and criteria for acceptance and approval of applications, monitoring of charter schools and grounds for revocation of charters, according to a state website. The board also reviews applications and make recommendations to the State Board on charter applications, renewals and revocations.

This comes after several requests from media outlets including WWAY for public records from Roger Bacon Academy and Charter Day School, Inc., in an attempt to provide transparency for the way Mitchell's charter schools spend taxpayer money.

While Mitchell remains silent as his schools and companies hold back information, school leaders at a charter school conference Thursday in downtown Wilmington had plenty to say about public record requests.

"I think transparency is important because people have questions, and they don't want things hidden from them," said Beverly Woodard, a charter school principal.

Robert Daniel, principal at Falls Lake Academy in Creedmoor, said, "I think it ought to be something that they can research and be able to find out if there is a need for it, but if all they are looking to do is to be able to establish gripes and groans against a particular charter school or a particular teacher, or a particular administrator, I don't think that's helpful at all."

We reached out to Mitchell for comment on his resignation from the Advisory Board, but he did not return our call.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Bigger than Ever

WWAY, as you continue your unbalanced investigative reporting...The Roger Bacon Academy continues to grow. Waiting lists and all.

They are providing a product that parents/students want.

There is a start to a news story for you - in order to attempt to balance your news reporting!!

Mitchell, what a bad example for our children

Ok, let me see if I've got this right. First, he refuses to release his teacher salaries, then does so, but only in lump sums and not by individuals. He finally releases them after the state threatens to pull his charter. But he still hasn't released the salaries of his principals, even though he's getting tax payer money to pay them. Now he resigns from a powerful appointment to the Charter Advisory Board, at the same time he is under an ethics complaint investigation. Oh wait, there is also the on going federal investigation, that has been confirmed by the DoEd. So, what am I missing? Oh, his scores are better. Well they should be, no buses, no lunch program....and what population does that exclude? Wow! I wonder if Mr. Berger knows something foul is headed this way and asked for the resignations of Mitchell and Norcross? Time will tell.

And so it continues.....

And so the bashing of this school and Mr. Mitchell continues. Enough already WWAY and the Star-News. Go report on news for a change instead of trying to hang someone. This isn't reporting! Move on already! Maybe he resigned because he is sick and tired of being harassed and all of the negativity that WWAY and Star-News keeps feeding to the public. So over this news story already!

Move

Let's just move on

Mr. Mitchell could have

Mr. Mitchell could have stopped the articles fron being posted by releasing the information requested. Until he releases clean records of how he uses government funds he will be in the spotlight. So as long as he continues funneling tax dollars into his pockets they can keep on posting. The federal investigation will shed light on whats going on when it is completed.

I don't think everyone understands

Mitchell was on a committee that (more or less) approved new charter schools. This meant he could approve his own, and work to not approve others. He directly benefited financially from the decisions he made serving on a public board, and was in a position to quell competition.

The problem is, and this is why everyone who cares about transparency and fair play should be mad, is that Mitchell and others refuse to recuse themselves when obvious conflicts of interest arise.

Some may say this is an attack on charter schools. Maybe. But if you are using your position on a public board to benefit your own private gains, there are legal ramifications. Its not legal.
This move was a self-preservation move that hopes to head off a brewing controversy that threatens to bring down Berger and Mitchell. Berger has a serious conflict of interest issue on this because he is tied financially to a charter school.

That aside, the explosion of charter schools and the present legislative environment have created a difficult issue. There is ONE person who has a fulltime job overseeing 150 charter schools. Guess we don't need to worry right? Just leave them alone, quit harassing them right? Parents provide oversight right?

Well great. Only our tax dollars is funding a school whose primary purpose is to create basketball players.

http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2013/01/28/charter-schools-international-ba...

So this school used tax payer money to create a basketball dynasty coached (and paid with tax payer money) by a convicted felon. Three state championships so far. 12 Division I players in 4 years.

So they lost their charter right? Nope renewed.

http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/04/22/qea-winston-salem-charter-scho...

Can someone please read these articles and explain WHY we don't need charter schools to have transparency?

Not all charters are bad. But open up the doors to your finances and let the public decide.

Imagine that

He stated his reason for resigning...he has too many other obligations. Why would he need to repeat it in a phone call?

Why

do you guys continue to INSIST that we bury our heads in the sand and accept without question Mitchell Bakers word?
The reporter (and WWAY) are doing the job they are supposed to do.
Investigate, uncover, and report.
If there's NOTHING to hide then so be it.
Unfortunately in THIS case there SEEMS to be something amiss - especially when Baker leases already owned equipment to the school he operates AND provides management services to that very same school.
Now he is asking for state funds?
Oh, wait, his cherry picked students do better in testing.
Oh, OK that absolves him of everything! Right?
Yeah go ask Joe Paterno if football success absolved HIM of everything.....(not the same I know but the concept is)

Vog

Mitchell Baker

People he does not hand pick his students. Do you not understand what Lottery means. Students are chose through a lottery system.

R Creech what do YOU not understand???

Allow me to spell out what a Charter School Lottery is like:

A lottery that cannot include children whose parents can't transport them to and from school because they are not required to provide transportation.
A lottery that can't include children whose parents rely on free or reduced lunches or breakfasts because they are not required to provide meals.
A lottery that allows them to send the underachievers and behavior problems back to the public school system, thereby assuring that their test scores are higher.
A lottery that assures that their resources are never depleted ala the public school system that has to accept EVERYONE regardless of how overcrowded their schools are.
And, yes... apparently a lottery that has no oversight, allowing school officials to pick whoever the heck they want.

Cherry Picked Students

They may be chosen by lottery, but if the little darlings don't perform swimmingly on those tests, he reserves (and has used) the right to bump them back to the public system.

Furthermore, since he doesn't offer transportation or even a "free lunch" program his school is already setup to discourage low income families (traditionally lower performing students) who can't drive their kids to his school or rely on the free lunches.

So yes, they are cherry picked.

For the record, charter

For the record, charter schools cannot just bump kids "back to public school" due to poor test performance. Can they be expelled due to behavior issues? You betcha, but guess what so can regular ole public schools. If you look at the history of kids in and out (every school has kids that leave)the amount that are asked to leave by them would be miniscule if any.
You are correct, they do not provide public transportation - neither did the public school that I grew up going to. Every parent in my town had to get kids to and from school everyday - there were no buses.
As for the free and reduced lunch, you're just flat out wrong. They have meals catered in everyday for children to purchase. The ones who are eligible for free/reduced lunch get it free or reduced. It has been like that since they opened.

If you think he is targeting high income, well to do families that can afford lunches, private tutors and private transportation - go check out Douglass Academy in ILM (which Roger Bacon Runs) That is a low income school and that is exactly the population that the charter targeted.

If you're going to hate on him or charters, please make sure you have your facts straight.

Well, sort of

Expulsion in the public school or the charter school for that matter is for a year at the most. Charter schools can send any misbehaving student back to public schools. That is not expulsion. Public schools cannot send their misbehaving students to the local charter. In addition, on those occasions that they have inadvertently accepted mentally challenged children, they repeatedly tell the parents that it is not the right setting for their child so that the parent voluntarily returns to the local traditional school. You remove all mentally challenged students to another setting, you increase your test scores and decrease theirs. All of this is done while accepting state and federal funds for the education of the handicapped.

wow...hatersgonnahate

If all you say is true, then there is no issue here. Just release the information lawfully requested and the whole thing is over, problem solved. Then they should reverse course and immediately come out in opposition to a law awaiting the governor's signature which makes sure that Charter Schools are exempt from releasing the same information that Public Schools are required to release. That way we can make sure that Charters continue to be the shining beacons of education you seem to think they are.

Facts

From the handbook:
"The Parent(s)/Guardian(s) and Student agree to:
provide lunch for my child on a daily basis, as the school will not be operating a cafeteria."

At Columbus Charter, 36% of the children are eligible for free lunch. The closest school to it is 96% reduced. These are facts. I am also sorry that you were not provided transportation. But state law requires traditional public schools to do so. Transportation is not provided at Columbus Charter for example. Oh, and I can assure you location is important. If you put up a school too close to a poor population, you get "undesireables". So a lot of charter schools are located so that a certain class will be able to come. By the way Columbus Charter is 12% minority in a county that is 40% minority.

Point is, is it ethically for any population to be targeted for a charter school population?

Good Points

Good points.

So, what do parents do that are not happy with the education and environment where their child is being educated?

If there is not a charter school and they are not wealthy enough to send their child to a private school, they are stuck. Many times they are stuck with a school in which the children are not disciplined and control the teachers. Some are stuck in an environment in which their child is not being challenged.

The good news is they are not stuck at a charter school. They are free to transfer back to their district school, and some do.

Yes, it does take a sacrifice for the parents to send their children to Charter Day School, Columbus Charter School and the new charter school in Brunswick county.

The answer to the superintendents of these traditional public schools, is to raise the bar. Provide a better education and learning environment at the traditional public schools, and see what happens! You probably will not have over 2000 students enrolling in charter schools.

Oh, I am sure there is money in the budget to do this. Just look at all the money WWAY says is lining the pockets of the founder of The Roger Bacon Academy - and he only has about 2000 students in his schools. Imagine what a good business man can do with a school budget for all of the schools in Brunswick County.

Oh, there is a thought....