Newport Board of Education votes to deny charter school application

Newport Board of Education votes to deny charter school application
A meeting of the Newport School Board in January 2019. (Source: KAIT)

NEWPORT, Ky. (FOX19) - The Newport Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to deny the application for a charter school proposed for the district, the board explained in a release issued following the vote.

The River Cities Academy application imagined attracting up to 200 students from Newport and Northern Kentucky’s other river cities, including Covington, Dayton, Bellevue, Fort Thomas and Ludlow, the board said.

It arose following legislation passed in 2017 by the Kentucky General Assembly allowing charter schools, though that legislation provided no funding source.

The application was submitted to Newport schools, requiring the district to perform due diligence on the application and make a recommendation to the board.

That recommendation, the board says, was supplemented by a recommendation from a panel of 32 Kentucky public school educators, administrators and experts from NKU, the Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services and elsewhere.

The board calls the vetting process ‘rigorous.’

Superintendents from Fort Thomas, Covington and Ludlow reportedly spoke in opposition to the application during a Dec. 18 public forum.

The review committee ultimately found the application failed to meet several criteria established by state law, including completing an operation plan, a financing plan or an educational program design. '

The review committee was also reportedly concerned with the lack of authentic evidence of community support for the school, lack of a transportation plan, lack of a plan to provide support for special needs students and significant plagiarism in the application process.

“The applicant lacked specificity and provided unfinished planning in multiple areas that leave significant question as to whether or not the school will be able to launch successfully for a proposed August 2020 start date,” Superintendent Middleton told the Board of Education as he listed a number of major concerns expressed by the review committee. “The applicant does not provide data to support the complexities of the population to be served and relies on generalized notions of what the applicant believes should be good for all children.”

The applicants reportedly have 30 days to appeal the decision to the Kentucky Department of Education.

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