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The hits just keep on coming

dontchangeThe opening of Virginia’s latest charter school (one of only four operating around the state) has been nothing but a roller coaster ride, not to mention a textbook example of the more-often-than-not contentious relationship between school districts and their charter schools when districts hold all the cards under a weak charter law:

Since the start of their dance with Richmond Public Schools (RPS) in the spring of 2008:

Patrick Henry was forced to go through the RPS approval vote process three times

Patrick Henry was initially left out of this year’s RPS budget

Patrick Henry is to be held to higher standards than other RPS schools, but will receive 21 percent less funding

Patrick Henry was “generously” granted leased space from RPS at a cost of $1 per year – facilities which came with a crippling renovation price tag of close to $1 million

Enough already?

Apparently not. Yesterday, a school more than 2 years in the making, one that will offer families a longer school year and a curriculum focus not available in traditional Richmond schools, was faced with the possibility of being on the receiving end of one more hit – the potential refusal by RPS to hire their first principal just as the final preparations for their inaugural school year get under way.

And why? An effort by the district to force facilities compliance Patrick Henry administrators have been making every effort to raise the money for, a compliance the Richmond School District never themselves deemed important until slapped with a lawsuit they now want to share with a school who’s doors have yet to open.

At the end of the day, this didn’t happen. But it could have.

Virginia needs to do more than create a new layer of bureaucratic oversight of the charter school approval process. Legislators need to realize that as long as they allow local school boards  to remain the sole “deciders” on the future of charters in the Commonwealth, only one decision will likely prevail…