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D-428 rejects online charter school

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb School District 428 board members joined at least a dozen of their counterparts by rejecting a proposal for a virtual charter school.

Board members voted, 7-0, Tuesday to reject a proposal from Virtual Learning Solutions to open the charter school that would pull both students and dollars from the district. District 428 officials had estimated the charter school could attract about 60 students and $480,000 in state funding from District 428, if it were ultimately approved.

Douglas Moeller, assistant superintendent, said administrators thought charter school leaders were not responsive to the district’s concerns, pointing to the generic 1,100-page response they received.

“This PowerPoint they showed us, which is at best misleading or worse deceptive,” Moeller said. “That to me is one of the most egregious tips that something was really wrong here.”

The nonprofit organization, which formed in February, has petitioned to open the Illinois Virtual Charter School at Fox River Valley in 18 districts throughout the region. Sycamore School District 427 board members unanimously rejected the proposal last week, challenging the supervision students would have and the 1,100-page response to school district leaders’ concerns.

Valley View CUSD 365U’s board, which is expected to vote on the proposal tonight, will be the last district to consider it.

The Valley View school board vote will trigger action from Virtual Learning Solutions. Late last week, Sharnell Jackson, the nonprofit’s board president, reaffirmed that charter school leaders plan to appeal every denial to the state charter commission once the last school board affected by the charter votes.

Virtual Learning Solutions will have 30 days to file an appeal to the state commission. The commission then has 45 days to hold public hearings and interview both Virtual Learning Solutions and school districts. After the fact-finding period, the commission has 30 days to decide the appeal.

Formed in July, the state commission has issued decisions on two appeals involving charter school proposals within the Chicago Public Schools system.

The commission denied the appeal from Pathways in Education to create five alternative schools, because Pathways failed to define its governing structure and detail how it would prevent conflicts of interest with the company selected to manage the schools.

In another decision, the commission accepted the appeal from Concept Schools to establish two brick-and-mortar charter schools in Chicago’s McKinley Park and Belmont neighborhoods.

The commission considered whether Concept’s charter proposal was in the best interest of students, whether the proposal garnered the support of the community and school personnel, and whether the proposal set rigorous student achievement standards.

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