NC State Superintendent Catherine Truitt refuses to disclose “outside counsel” in controversial charter school decision

At the November 2 meeting of the North Carolina State Board of Education, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt was pressed on her decision to not appeal the controversial approval of American Leadership Academy Monroe.

ALA Monroe will be managed by out-of-state for-profit charter operator Charter One, and Truitt received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in June from representatives of this corporation–shortly after changes in state law gave her authority to appeal approval or denial of charters.

The State Board of Education had previously denied ALA Monroe’s charter on two occasions, voicing concerns about conflicts of interest in the school’s governance, rapid expansion of Charter One into North Carolina without sufficient evidence of academic success, and drawbacks of giving public tax dollars to an out-of-state corporation.

State Board Vice Chair Alan Duncan asked Superintendent Truitt to explain who advised her not to appeal the decision and why she did not consult staff attorneys at the Department of Public Instruction or the State Board of Education.

Truitt refused to disclose which attorneys she had consulted.

State Board Vice Chair Alan Duncan: “…Who was the outside attorney that you apparently relied upon for providing the responses given?”

Superintendent Catherine Truitt: “Our legal counsel, as wonderful as they are, are not experts in charter school law. And I would argue that no one on this board is an expert in charter school law. And so I turned to outside counsel who are experts in charter school law, and I’m happy to have that conversation with you offline.”

You can read the entire background on the Charter One-North Carolina controversy including Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson’s involvement here.

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