North Star appeals to state to save its charter

North Star Charter School says it can’t get a fair hearing from Meridian School District on the fate of its operating charter, so it has appealed directly to the State Board of Education to save the school.

North Star’s appeal, delivered to the Ed Board Tuesday, seeks to bypass a public hearing Meridian School District officials say is required on North Star’s future after the school ran into severe financial problems that surfaced this spring.

North Star accused the Meridian district of making mistakes in how it handled an initial unanimous vote to revoke the schools charter on grounds North Star was not financially stable.

Meridian School District did not consider steps North Star had taken to improve its financial situation, including getting bondholders to temporarily forego collection of more than $800,000 in payments to help ease the school’s financial burden.

Trustees worried that an interim agreement with bondholders could easily be terminated, leaving nearly 1,000 students with no place to attend school.

North Star officials say trustees ignored financial information provided to the district that such a possibility was unlikely.

The school officials also say the district has a conflict of interest on voting to revoke the charter because it could possibly get income from an emergency levy if it had to absorb the school’s 900 students at a time when the district has said it is facing dwindling resources.

Continuing with a public hearing would be a waste of time and resources, school officials say.

“We are not after their kids,” said Linda Clark, Meridian School District superintendent. “(The school) is not solvent.”

Meridian School District issued a notice of defect to North Star Charter School as the school faced mounting financial problems last spring growing out of crushing bond payments North Star was making on its school building constructed in 2008.

North Star says the district should have given a notice of intent to revoke North Star’s charter followed by a public hearing and a vote on whether to revoke the charter.

The board voted unanimously to revoke the charter on June 25.

Clark said, however, that the district has not revoked the school’s charter. It still needs to schedule a public hearing at which to do that.

Clark acknowledged that the board should have told North Star that it intended to revoke the charter when in took the vote on June. She called it an “error in the wording.”

State Board of Education attorneys are reviewing the appeal and trying to clarify if Meridian School District has revoked North Star’s charter. If it has not, then there is nothing to appeal, said Marilyn Whitney, board spokeswoman.

Read North Star’s appeal to the State Board of Education.

Posted in In The Classroom