Back in 2015, SCORE — The Statewide Collaborative on Reforming Education — awarded the SCORE Prize for Middle Schools to New Vision Academy, a charter school in Nashville.
Here’s a bit of what they wrote about the school:
A small, single-hallway school with nine instructors on staff, NVA has an exceptionally data-rich culture. Many tools for monitoring student growth are in use at this public charter school in Nashville – assessments, benchmarks, math and reading levels – and NVA sets a new standard for using this information productively. Data improves instruction, facilitates teacher collaboration, and aids communication with students and parents.
SCORE lauded the school for an emphasis on TVAAS growth — even though that growth might not mean very much.
Fast forward to this week and a Tennessean story about what’s happening at New Vision Academy:
According to the whistleblower report, students were charged for textbooks even though the school earmarked thousands of dollars for classroom supplies. The top two executives at New Vision, who are married, make a combined $562,000.
The concerns on New Vision highlight the issue of how the district maintains oversight of charter schools. A charter school is funded with taxpayer money, but operates autonomously and is run by its own board of directors.
The teachers who exposed the situation at NVA have been invited to leave:
On Monday, the four teachers who talked to The Tennessean for this story were escorted out of the school. Three were told not to return. One was allowed back into the school Tuesday to finish teaching the final three days of the school year. All four were told the school is accepting their resignations as of this week.
While the school is small (around 200 students), the top administrators earn more than top-level leaders in MNPS or other large districts in the state:
A financial concern raised in the whistleblower report is the salary of New Vision Academy’s executive director Tim Malone, who made $312,971 in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, according to the organization’s most recent public tax documents. His wife, LaKesha Malone is New Vision’s second highest ranking executive. She earned $250,000 during that same period, documents showed.
The accusations prompted multiple investigations from MNPS:
Queen’s office is also investigating the school’s compliance with handicap accessibility laws. The school’s multi-story building does not have an elevator for wheelchair-bound students.
Queen said his office periodically audits charter schools and launches an inquiry when a complaint is levied. The New Vision Academy complaint, Queen said, was extremely detailed and documented, which prompted multiple investigations.
“This was extensive, well written and researched,” he said.
Stay tuned as this story unfolds.
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