For the first time in its four-year history, the state board that oversees virtual charter schools has decided to shut down one of the schools, citing a pattern of violations.
The Statewide Virtual Charter Board voted Thursday to end its contract with ABLE Charter School, the newest and smallest of the state’s five virtual schools.
The school, which has an enrollment of 61 students across the state, had come under fire for being out of compliance with several state laws and rules. ABLE’s superintendent said the school will appeal the decision.
The allegations included inadequate financial reporting, repeatedly violating the state’s Open Meeting Act and lacking appropriate training for some personnel.
Marie Schuble, an attorney with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, said the failure to provide accurate financial data to the board handicapped its ability to provide oversight over the school.
She added some of the other violations, taken individually, might not be grounds for closing the school. But, as a whole, she said it showed ABLE, which opened during the 2015-16 school year, was not quite “ready to become a school.”
Michael Furlong, an attorney for ABLE, acknowledged that some “mistakes” were made. But he said there weren’t willful violations that warranted closing he school. Instead, he asked the board to allow ABLE to finish the year and prove that the issues have been resolved.
After about six hours of deliberations in a closed meeting, the board voted to terminate the contract.
ABLE’s superintendent, Kenneth Kuczynski, said after the vote that the school will appeal the decision. He said this could be made to the State Board of Education or the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Kuczynski said he believes the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board didn’t follow state rules and regulations in bringing the termination case. He added that he believes ABLE was unfairly put under more scrutiny than the other virtual schools.
“We have not failed our students academically,” he said. “This was strictly about bureaucratic issues.”
While the decision is being appealed, he said it will be “business as usual” for the school and its students.