RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A charter school in Wake County could potentially lose its license to operate if it doesn’t come into state compliance. The North Carolina State Board of Education said Torchlight Academy is failing to follow federal special education laws.
Torchlight Academy in Raleigh serves about 600 students.
“It’s heartbreaking, the school is very transparent, they were very honest with us,” said Ednitta Wright. Her children attend school there and she said she’s had a good experience there.
“I love that they’re a community-based school. They have paid people’s light bills, rent,” she said.
But the state board of education said the school has had long-standing issues with its special education program. It has until Jan. 5 to show it has corrected them or risk losing its charter.
The board listed the following reasons:
- Grossly negligent administrative oversight of the EC program;
- Failure to properly implement the Individualized Education Program process as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act;
- Alteration and falsification of EC student records;
- Lack of federally mandated “Maintenance of Effort” for the previous three (3) consecutive years;
- Inability and/or failure to provide access by NCDPI EC staff to EC student and finance records when requested;
- Lack of qualified staff in the EC program;
- Falsely reporting staff’s compliance with Every Child Accountability and Tracking System (ECATS) training; and
- Failure to provide all documentation requested by DPI’s EC Division.
“The board remains concerned that Torchlight appears to have engaged in intentional misconduct such as altering documents to change dates and documents on student IEPs,” said board member Eric Davis at Thursday’s board of education meeting.
Davis said school leadership has not taken responsibility either.
“Rather than acknowledge its failures, Torchlight continues to blame the Office of Charter Schools and DPI’s Exceptional Children’s Division,” Davis said.
CBS 17 called the school to see what they had to say but did not hear back. In their written response to the state, Torchlight said the recommendation for probation is “unwarranted and overly severe.” They added that the Office of Charter Schools “exaggerated the purported noncompliance”.
But the state’s decision is made. Some parents said theirs is too.
“My son has been here for three years and if he’s not here, then he’s gonna be homeschooled. I’m not going to send him back to public school,” said Rachel Dorman, another parent at Torchlight Academy.