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April 23, 2021

Decision on Essie Mae charter appeal expected Thursday

EAST SPENCER — A decision on the fate of Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School is expected today when the State Board of Education will vote on the school’s appeal of a charter revocation.

Amy White, chair of the state board’s Education, Innovation and Charter Schools Committee, said a panel reviewed the decision to recommend revoking the school’s charter by the state’s Charter School Advisory Board and the final decision to revoke by the state board. The panel met with the school and Department of Public Instruction Staff and voted to uphold the revocation.

During a meeting of the State Board of Education on Wednesday, there were no comments about upholding the decision after the overview of the panel’s review.

The decision to revoke primarily hinged on the failure of Essie Mae to produce required annual audit reports. All public entities, including local school districts, counties and municipalities, are required to undergo annual audits.

Until recently, Essie Mae did not produce audits for its first two years of operation, and it received an extension by the state to complete its second audit after the advisory board had already made the recommendation to revoke its charter.

Essie Mae’s board has attributed the missing audit reports to failures by its former charter school management company and, subsequently, the accountant it hired to complete audit reports after it parted ways with that company.

The advisory board also cited poor performance at the school.

Essie Mae opened for students in 2018 after organizers expressed a desire to bring a school back to the town of East Spencer. One year after it opened, state officials put it on an allotment restriction because of spending concerns.

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