UPDATE: StarNews moves lawsuit against charter school group

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The StarNews says it has not ended its lawsuit against a charter school group that operates four charter schools in the area.

Earlier today, Charter Day Schools, Inc., said the StarNews has dropped its public records lawsuit against the group, according to a news release sent by Roger Bacon Academy, the company that CDS uses to manage schools.

CDS said the lawyer representing Halifax Media LLC, which owns the StarNews, recently filed a voluntary dismissal of the case in New Hanover County Superior Court.

“This dismissal is vindication for the CDS Board of Trustees and our entire public charter school community of students and parents,” CDS Board Chair John Ferrante in a statement. “From the beginning, we were confident that we were in full compliance with the Public Record Law.”

But the StarNews says it has not dropped the suit and intends to continue pursuing legal action against CDS and RBA, which were both founded by businessman Baker Mitchell and are based at the same property near Leland.

“Until last week, we believed Charter Day School Inc.’s lawyer, Ellis Boyle, was working to fulfill our request and avoid court all together. He sent us some of the documents we had requested as a show of good faith,” StarNews Executive Editor Pam Sander told WWAY. “Then last week, the continued threat from them that they would ask for a venue change to Brunswick (County) made us realize their actions have again been about delay tactics and not adhering to public records law.”

Sander says the newspaper has followed the advice of its legal counsel to move the lawsuit to Brunswick County “to minimize any further delays.”

The move comes after the Department of Public Instruction gave to media outlets, including the StarNews and WWAY, salary information for RBA employees at CDS schools as part of a public records request, even though the information was submitted as confidential trade secrets belonging to RBA. It also comes weeks after Halifax Media announced its sale to another company.

The newspaper filed the lawsuit against CDS in September alleging that the school group is not following the state’s public records law.

CDS operates Charter Day School in Leland, Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, Douglass Academy in Wilmington and South Brunswick Charter School in Southport.

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