Charter school appeal heard

PNT Staff Report

Sponsors of the proposed Horace Mann Charter School will have to wait until after Christmas to know whether it will be organized under the umbrella of the Portales Municipal Schools Board of Education.

New Mexico Secretary of Education Veronica Garcia heard from school sponsors as well as Portales school officials during an appeal hearing Monday in Santa Fe, and told the group she would study the issue and render a decision by Dec. 26.
Garcia said Monday the recorded hearing will be reviewed by legal counsel for legal points as well as herself as a determination is being made.

“We never rule on the same day,” Garcia said.

The charter school sponsors and Portales school officials each had an opportunity to present their case at the hearing.

In October, the Portales school board denied the charter application that was filed in June. In November the charter sponsors filed an appeal with the New Mexico Pubic Education Department.

The department’s Charter School Division reviewed the appeal and recommended its rejection. Garcia said the applicant and school board were entitled to have the hearing proceed.

“I think Dr. Garcia is intent on making a really fair determination,” HMCS sponsor Joan Brown said. “I feel whatever decision she reaches will be thoughtful and fair.”
Brown said the Dec. 26 date will still allow the organization to file under new rules permitting schools to form as a state charter.

Under new laws that go into effect in June, the school sponsors would need only a letter announcing their intention to apply for a state charter by Jan. 1. Applications and other documentation would be due in the spring.

Portales Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler was unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.