Monday, May 23, 2011

I Write Letters

Dear Ms. Gist, Ms. Smith and Mr. Jones,

I wrote to Mr. Jones on May 3rd requesting clarification on the application for the Achievement First Mayoral Academies:

> Achievement First Mayoral Academies have a pending application that, if approved by the Board of Regents, would result in the granting of a preliminary charter.

> The BOARD OF REGENTS’ REGULATIONS GOVERNING RHODE ISLAND PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS states "In the case of a proposed Mayoral Academy, the proposed Charter submitted to the Commissioner shall include all the material required by R.I.G.L. 16-77.4-2."

> R.I.G.L. 16-77.4-2 (17) states "Provide a copy of the proposed bylaws of the mayoral academy."

> AFMA have not provided a copy of the proposed bylaws of the mayoral academy.

Mr Jones replied on May 5th:

> The lack of bylaws is one thing that we flagged in our initial review of the application. We requested that they either submit bylaws or bylaws from existing schools. We felt that the latter was an appropriate substitute at this stage in the review process because their Board has not yet been fully formed and their organization has not yet fully taken shape.

Is there a legal basis for this other than your "feelings?" The Board of Regents' regulations are quite clear on this requirement. Without bylaws that address the very specific, unique, and carefully crafted governance structure of a Rhode Island Mayoral Academy, how can the public or RIDE assess this proposal?

As a member of the public I must at least request a written copy of the decision to accept and move to public comment this incomplete application.

Mr. Jones went on:

> The founding group, however, will be submitting amendments within the next few weeks that will include a draft of the proposed bylaws.

He did not respond to my further query:

> How is the public supposed to comment on something so incomplete? Are you going to reset the public comment period when they actually finish their application?

Mel Ochoa, Director of Marketing & Communications at Achievement First, also informed me in an email that they inteded to submit revisions to their proposal after the beginning of the public comment period.

I have serious concerns that the application under public review will not be the one evaluated by RIDE, the Commissioner and the Board of Regents. RIDE, RIMA, and all concerned parties had an opportunity to make sure the application was complete under the procedure laid out in R.I.G.L. 16-77.4-3 (a). As that phase in the process has passed, I see no justification for Mr. Jones or Mr. Ochoa to be talking about amendments, additions, commentary or other changes to the application.

Do I have your assurance that this application will be evaluated as submitted, approved and posted?

Tom Hoffman

Providence, RI

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