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Douglass Academy
Douglass Academy in Wilmington on May 22, 2017 (Photo: Hannah Patrick/WWAY)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Schools superintendent is speaking out over the shocking number of students transferring from charter schools each year.

Superintendent Tim Markley said during the 2016-2017 school year, 84 students transferred in from charter schools.

“We just want to know, when we see students coming back, why are they coming back, and if it’s a lot from one school, is there something that’s happening there that needs to be addressed,” Markley said.

Markley said 44 of those 84 students came from Douglass Academy, which has put a strain on Snipes Academy of Art and Design and Rachel Freeman Elementary School.

“Seventeen students have come from Douglass Academy, and, well, it takes time for us to get to learn the students and figure out where they are academically,” Snipes Academy Principal Cindy Talbert said.

Markley said it takes extra resources that they do not get, but the charter school does. That is because the money usually does not follow the student.

Markley said each year, the school system or the charter school gets about $7,000 per student between the county and the state. If the student was at the charter school for the first 20 days of the year, the money stays at the charter school even if the student transfers to a school in the district.

“When you take that number of students, you’re talking about in the neighborhood of half a million dollars or more,” Markley said. “Those are dollars that could be used for teachers. Charter schools are public schools, so they’re dealing with those students, and that’s a good choice for a lot parents, but when you bring that many students back at different points in the year, then it’s just an added cost that we have to pick up picking up those students from where they are and moving forward.”

Markley said the 20-day state law may need to be given a second look.

“When it comes to charter schools, since it is public dollars, instead of looking at the attendance date once a year, maybe looking at it twice a year,” Markley said.

For now, Markley said they just want to know why the number of transfers is so high.

We reached out to officials from Douglas Academy who is owned by Roger Bacon Academy. We are still waiting for a response.

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Comment on this Story

  • T.W. Duke

    Its loose comparison but I think it works.
    Racketeering, often associated with organized crime, is the act of offering of a dishonest service (a “racket”) to solve a problem that wouldn’t otherwise exist without the enterprise offering the service. Racketeering as defined by the RICO act includes a list of 35 crimes. If convicted of racketeering, a person could serve up to 20 years and be fined up to $25,000.

  • Bonnie

    This problem exists in Brunswick County as well. The charter school purposely keeps kids that they know are not returning on the roster for the first 20 days to get the money. I had a friend whose child went to a charter for one year but then went to a regular public school the next year. She could not get the charter school to take her daughter off their roster. The regular public school told her they have this issue every year. They asked her to contact the school board and request that the funds for her child not go to the charter school. My son was also kept on the roster last year after attending the charter school the previous year despite the fact that I had pulled him out after the first year. Nobody bothers to check where the kids are actually going to school before releasing the funds.

    • Bryan Leonard

      That’s an easy fix, one law or regulation would require all schools to update their roster yearly or face fines. Any web developer worth their salt could develop a program within a day for these schools where they can upload their rosters and compare it to last year and sort out who is no longer attending. Instead of doing away entirely

  • Beanomac

    Shouldn’t it be up to the parents on where they want their kids to go to school?

  • Anne Russell

    Charter schools are a scam on the taxpayers and detrimental to real public schools. If parents want their children to attend other than public schools (i.e., private schools), they are free to pay out of their own pockets and stay out of mine.

    • Quake

      Really Anne, are all charter schools a scam? All people are not alike and charter schools offer an alternative to schools that may not match the needs of all.

      I have personally visited the Douglass Academy as well as many New Hanover public schools and was most impressed with the way in which Douglas operates. I witnessed first grade students diagramming sentences at Douglas. I witnessed classes where most every child was engaged and excited about learning.

      I certainly do not want to denigrate the many hard working and skilled teachers in New Hanover county public schools but I feel that their hands are tied. It seems that they are forced to focus on one thing, EOG test results.

      Yes, it would reasonable to award public funding based on attendance
      (pro-rating the funds as suggested above) and there should be changes in
      this area. Dr. Markley seems to be more concerned about the funding than fixing the many problems in New Hanover county schools. That $500k could pay for maybe six (6) personal secretaries
      (https://www.wwaytv3.com/2013/10/30/only-3-investigation-new-hanover-co-school-superintendent-exposes-lack-of-house-dating-ru/).

      Dr. Markley insinuates that 44 students leaving Douglas is a sign of a problem with the school. While there very well could be an issue (that if so, I am sure that the Douglass staff will correct) perhaps Dr. Markley can explain the number of students that have chosen alternatives to New Hanover county schools (charter, private, home)? I for one have found New Hanover public schools to not be a good match
      for my children and am paying for private schooling. Funny thing is that
      public schools are still taking from my pocket.

    • Jeff

      With three grandchildren attending Roger Bacon, I will say the quality of the education they receive there is far greater than what they would have received at a public school.

  • marshalladame

    Allowing the Charter Schools to keep the cash is part of the Republican Legislature scam and its working perfectly. They know how uninformed and indifferent the people of NC are and how easily and soon this will be forgotten.
    Proof?.. …… Just look at the donations the Charter School Associations and LLCs give to the Republican Legislators and Judges in NC.
    NC Voters are simply reaping what we have sown. ….. And they have just begun.

    • Mark

      Bingo. The charter schools can test students out. As the school year progresses, if a student doesn’t perform to *standards* the student is transferred out. The school keeps the money for the full year, which, turns into more profit for the school, OR..more money to spend on each remaining student

      • Jeff

        And if a child transfers from public to charter, the county board of education keeps the pupil funding.

      • Rafterman

        Charters rarely take transfers because they don’t have to. But public schools must take transfers from charters. It is not a symmetrical relationship. This is part of the scam.

      • Bryan Leonard

        @Mark “The charter schools can test students out. As the school year progresses, if a student doesn’t perform to *standards* the student is transferred out. The school keeps the money for the full year, which, turns into more profit for the school”. You mean like every college and university? how dare them have standards and try to prepare students for what lies ahead, instead of giving diplomas to anything with a pulse.

      • Bonnie

        Colleges are privately funded so your comparison is ridiculous. Test grades can be easily manipulated. Generally it is the more affluent kids attending charter schools bc they have parents who can afford to provide lunches and drive kids everyday. That right there skews test scores bc affluent kids generally test better.

      • Bryan Leonard

        Wrong… only private colleges are privately funded. Public Colleges and Universities receive public funding from states along with tuition from students, so yes my comparison is correct. So just because some kids have certain advantages over others you want to punish the child by not letting them have a choice for better education, but instead hold them back? Why not have voucher programs for students that can’t afford charter schools to go to charter schools. There will always be a need for public schools, but we need to move to more and better options in childhood education. This “one school system fits all” is failing tremendously.

    • Beanomac

      Perhaps NC Voters just don’t agree with your opinion.

  • ncmathsadist

    Solution: pro–rate this amount by the day. It’s only reasonable.

  • Wahha

    Charter Schools should not get a single dollar of tax payer money.

    • Wayne Harris-Wyrick

      Tell that to Trump’s Secretary of Education.

    • Jeff

      Charter Schools have higher end-of-grade test scores than public schools.

  • Rafterman

    What a scam. The system is set up to funnel public money to the private individuals and corporations that run charter schools. Why isn’t the state subsidy prorated? That would be easy. So, if a student only stayed 20 out of 180 days, then the charter would keep 1/9th of the $7000. That would be fair. Of course, the legislature won’t do that because they want the money to flow to the people who are giving them contributions. Again, this is a complete scam. The taxpayers are being ripped-off.

    • Jeff

      The funding road runs both ways. If a child leaves public school and enrolls in a charter school, the public school system retains the per-pupil funding. Funding is set once per year.

      • Rafterman

        But transfers don’t run both ways. Charters rarely accept transfers because they don’t have to, unlike real public schools, and because they don’t get any money from the transfer. Again, charters have become mostly a scam for people to cheat taxpayers.

    • Shelia Jones-McPherson

      Schools are a scam, regardless if it’s public or charter! If the gov has their hand in it WE ARE ALL GETTING SCREWED! My son who is 16, originally started at a “school”, when he was 5. Almost every week he was out and at the ped’s office because of being sick on his stomach. There was an issue with a child that assaulted my child at least four times. Once the child went to the water fountain, got a mouthful of water and right in front of the teacher and me, spit the water in my son’s face. There was three other incidents that I saw. My son was supposed to get speech therapy, but never once got anything! Last of October 2006, the ped and a child psy, pulled him out of school. The doctors and I couldn’t even get the school system to provide in-home school. According to the school system, “They could provide what he needed in school.” Yea, we see how that worked! But, the school system has every year got money for my son. Not me, the school system! At my family’s cost we have had to home school him, with no help as to what to even teach, and we haven’t ever got any help with any of the doctor’s or therapy! We can’t even take any of the expenses for home schooling off on our taxes. My son wont even discuss collage. I’m disabled and we don’t even get anything to help with me. But boy we get slammed with taxes paid to the gov because my husband works 3 jobs! So, anyone who feels scammed, think how my family feels. BTW I filed charges against the child to try to get something done, “If he couldn’t keep his hands and everything else to himself, then the school and the parents, should be held accountable”! Nothing ever came of that either. The money that was put on an account for my son’s lunches, ect.,the remainder of that money was never returned either.

      • Beanomac

        Sounds like you should of taught your kid to not be a wuss and should taught him how to defend himself accordingly.

      • Bonnie

        You should look into a disability grant for your child. It can be used for homeschooling or private school.

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