Charter school appeal denied

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Secretary of Education Veronica Garcia upheld a Portales Municipal Schools board decision Tuesday, denying a charter to the proposed Horace Mann School.

Garcia outlined the reasons for denying the appeal in a 16-page document.

Garcia said there were at least 15 instances of deficiency in the HMS charter application. She said that even if she dismissed a third of those deficiencies, the problems associated with programs of the school were still too great to approve a charter.

As the school board had previously noted in their reasons for denial, Garcia also made particular note of problems in the area of budget, special education and curriculum. In addition, Garcia expressed concern in the document that the charter school was intending to forego a planning year and try and address all concerns by fall 2007.

“We are disappointed, but we knew the decision could go either way after the hearing on Dec. 18,” HMS sponsor Joan Brown said.
“I felt like our board had made a correct decision in denying the application,” Portales Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said. “She (Garcia) affirmed the decision.”

The school board first received the charter school application in June. It denied the application in September and Brown filed the appeal in October.

Brown says she will file a letter of intent to seek a charter by Jan. 1 in order meet deadlines for a new charter school process that allows charter applicants to organize under the local school board or directly to the Public Education Department as a state charter.

Brown said her group is leaving its options open about which of those avenues to reapply through, but she said the school will likely seek a state charter.

The deadline for that application is July 1.

“I think there are probably some things we can incorporate into this process from the earlier feedback we received,” Brown said. “It will just make the school stronger.”