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Heritage Collegiate is first appeal to state board from review board rejection

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(The Center Square) – A three-member state Board of Education panel will review a charter school appeal of rejection on Monday, the first since a shift in authority earlier this year.

Heritage Collegiate Leadership Academy-Wake was denied by the state’s newly created Charter Schools Review Board in October. Dr. Kashi Bazemore, leading the charter school application, will present the appeal.

The October rejection was a reconsideration of the school’s application following a March denial by the state board. House Bill 618, approved by lawmakers in August, shifted authority over charter school decisions to the review board, which was previously limited to an advisory role, and allowed for reconsiderations of state board charter school decisions.

The legislation relegated the state board to an appellate body for charter school applications. Heritage Collegiate is hoping it will use that authority to overturn its denial. The state board panel is expected to make a recommendation to the full board on Dec. 7.

“There were mistakes made. None of us can go back and turn back the hand of time,” Bazemore told the review board last month. “But what we can do is look at the application before us, as well as the fact that it was submitted with $1,000 for a fair consideration. If you look at the number of D and F schools in Wake County … this school is desperately needed.”

Bazemore’s leadership of a low-performing charter school in Bertie County that closed in 2022 was cited by the review board. The application for Heritage Collegiate was twice recommended for approval by the charter school advisory board, once in December 2022 and again in February 2023.

Heritage Collegiate is aimed at minority K-8 students in eastern Wake County whom Bazemore said in October are not well served by Wake County public schools. State board opposition to the charter school came from former member Amy White, who cited a variety of issues at the Bertie County school, from failure to comply with fiscal requirements to violations of federal regulations for special needs students.

Bazemore says White’s opposition stems from personal conflicts during her time as an assistant principal in Wake County schools, when White served on the school board.

Review board chairman Bruce Friend said in October he’s “not sure … what to believe.”

“Here’s what I do know. I believe Dr. Bazemore is very passionate about the desire to serve these kids and these students. I don’t question that,” he said in October. “I also know … Ms. White is a person … of great integrity, and we could not have asked for a better champion of school choice on the state board.”

Review board member Bartley Danielson, who voted to approve the school’s application as a member of the advisory board, said he reversed course because he “learned from the state board deliberations about financial issues that I wasn’t aware of at the past school.”

“I certainly believe there’s a need and I was very persuaded there is a need,” he said. “I’m not confident this board could run a school.”

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