Statement regarding the state board of education’s approval of a Norman charter school

Statement from Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, regarding the state board of education’s approval of a Norman charter school:

“I am extremely disappointed that the state Board of Education blatantly ignored state law and the valid concerns of state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister in approving the LeMonde International Charter School application.

Norman Public Schools had identified 12 areas where the application fell short of charter school legal requirements. Furthermore, the state board unilaterally changed the opening date for the school, which the law doesn’t allow.

In voting to deny the charter school’s appeal, Hofmeister voiced strong concerns about the school’s ability to be successful and particularly to hire well-prepared teachers for a specialized program during a historic teacher shortage. She also questioned the state Education Department’s ability to oversee and support the charter amid continuing budget cuts.

This marks the second time the state Board of Education has approved a charter school appeal without close attention to whether the application complied with state law. In a letter to state board members earlier this month, OSSBA outlined its concerns with the board’s recent approval of a Seminole charter school. In both cases, the board did not dutifully address the reasons for denial or whether the application met the charter school law requirements.

The board needs to stop overturning valid decisions of local school boards and stop approving charter schools based on personal preferences while ignoring state law. The law is designed to ensure proposed charter schools are capable of providing a high-quality education for students. Failing to follow the law puts students and their education at risk.”