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August 2, 2002

State Board Staff Upholds Crete-Monee School District's Revocation of Charter GSU Charter School Out of Compliance with Charter Schools Law

The Governors State University Charter School failed to comply with its charter and the state’s Charter Schools Law and the Crete-Monee school district was within its rights to revoke the charter, State Board of Education staff ruled this week.

The Crete-Monee school district approved the request for the charter in February of 2000 and the State Board certified a five-year charter for the school to serve students in grades K through 4. In January, the Crete-Monee board voted to revoke the charter, citing several alleged violations of provisions of that charter and Illinois’ Charter Schools Law.

The GSU board appealed the revocation to the State Board, which may overrule the school district’s decision if it finds the charter school complies with state laws and if it is in the best interests of the students it is designed to serve.

Representatives of the Crete-Monee district and the GSU Charter School presented oral arguments to a hearing panel in June. Deficiencies alleged by Crete-Monee included:

  1. A change in the school’s governance structure constituted an unauthorized material revision of the charter’s provisions;

  2. Failure to have an audit by a CPA within 90 days of the end of the fiscal year;

  3. Failure to provide student achievement data, student discipline data and a description of any revisions to the proposed educational program; and

  4. Failure to provide an extended-day program, foreign language instruction, child care, preschool instruction, a full-year program and a fine arts program as described in the original, approved charter.

The appeals panel found that the charter school did fail to have the audit completed within the specified time frame (deficiency #2) and that it also did not provide numerous programs promised by the charter that was approved (#4). The school district and parents were told these programs would be provided, but the charter school unilaterally decided not to offer them due to “lack of funding.”

The appeal panel only partially agreed with deficiency item number three, concluding that the school provided achievement data to the district and that it would be premature to conclude it was not making reasonable progress since it has not yet had the full length of time provided by the charter. The panel did conclude, however, that the charter school failed to provide a description of any revisions to the proposed educational program before implementing such changes. The panel noted that merely providing information to the district would not have been sufficient to authorize substantial changes. The charter school and the district would have needed to amend the charter under provisions of state law.

The panel recommended that the State Superintendent deny the appeal of the charter’s revocation because the findings under deficiencies number two and four demonstrated that the charter school did not comply with its charter and the Charter Schools Law.

Superintendent Respicio Vazquez recused himself from ruling on the case because of previous professional relationships with Governors State University staff. Vazquez asked Chief Educational Officer Christopher Koch to review the panel’s recommendation and make the final decision on the appeal. Koch signed the order denying the appeal July 30.

While the order may be subject to review by the courts, the charter school can not operate after the date of the order. Students planning to enroll will need to enroll in the appropriate school within the Crete-Monee school district.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777