A Shelby County charter school with campuses in Memphis and Bartlett narrowly missed having its charter revoked last week.
The Shelby County Schools (SCS) Board of Education has postponed until February or March 2016 any action on revoking the charter of SMART Schools Inc., which owns New Consortium of Law and Business (NCLB) locations in Memphis and Bartlett.
The SCS board considered the action at its July 28 meeting, a step that would have closed both campuses right before the 2015-16 school year starts.
Reasons given were NCLB’s alleged violations of state law and the charter agreement, including:
- Enrolling staff in a non-SCS insurance plan
- Failing to pay staff in May
- Falling behind on contributions to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS)
The recommendation to revoke the charter also listed other concerns:
- SCS has received reports that NCLB students were not provided with special education services as outlined in Individual Education Plans (IEPs) at least twice.
- NCLB employees reported being inaccurately coded to students for end-of-year testing purposes.
- NCLB has repeatedly filed late financial audits.
- NCLB received a Level 1 growth score in 2014 and is in the bottom third of all charter schools in achievements.
- NCLB has locations at 10 N. Court Ave. in Memphis and 6165 Stage Road in Bartlett.
Currently, there are approximately 160 students (about 80 at each school) enrolled for the upcoming school year.
Allegations of financial woes at NCLB campuses first arose last June when teachers complained about missing paychecks and nonpayment of health insurance and retirement premiums.
Memphis attorney Tim Edwards, who represents some of the teachers, also raised a red flag in June about SCS possibly facing legal risks because of NCLB’s conduct.
A spokesman for NCLB was not immediately available for comment on Monday. In earlier media reports, however, director Tommie Henderson was quoted as saying that NCLB’s financial issues were only temporary money flow problems that have been addressed.
Charter schools are a type of public school, typically having fewer restrictions on innovation than more traditional district schools have. They are open to all children (on a space-available basis) without tuition or special entrance requirements.
Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.