AFT mobilizes to oppose charter schools in Mon County

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Members of the American Federation of Teachers rallied at University High School in Morgantown to show support for public schools and oppose a proposed charter school in Mon County.

The legislation passed by lawmakers allows three charter schools beginning in July of 2020. The legislation allows charter schools, but they must be authorized by the county board of education.

The West Virginia Academy conducted a survey of parents of students in Mon, Preston and Marion Counties from April 16 through April 23 and found the level of satisfaction with education is low.

The survey said less than 50 percent of Mon County parents were highly satisfied, less than 15 percent of parents in Preston County were highly satisfied and in Marion County slightly more than 50 percent were highly satisfied.

West Virginia AFT president, Fred Albert told the group of teachers Mon County has no need for a charter school.

“Monongalia County Schools are among of the best schools in West Virginia,” Albert said,” So, it’s important that we’re here tonight to let charter school operators know, and our local school board know your community says no thanks.”

For fiscal year 2019, the West Virginia Schools Balanced Scorecard reports Mon County enrollment was 10,378 and the graduation rate was 90 percent. Additionally, the attendance rate was nearly 95 percent.

West Virginia AFT vice president, Tega Toney said public schools provide what students need, eliminating the need for charter schools.

“AFT is here to show we are against charter schools in Monongalia County and actually the whole state of West Virginia,” Toney said,” We want to show our support for our public schools.”

The West Virginia Academy, established after three charter schools were approved last year, has submitted an application that is under review by the Mon County Board of Education.

“We don’t feel the West Virginia Academy in their proposal they’ve submitted to Monongalia County Schools can offer the students of Monongalia County anything that Monongalia County Public Schools can’t offer them or doesn’t offer them,” Toney said.

According to Toney, approving the West Virginia Academy to operate a charter school would be very risky for families.

“The West Virginia Academy doesn’t have a proven track record, in fact they don’t have a track record, they’re only a few months old,” Toney said,” We’re very hesitant and against allowing them to come in and open a charter school.”

AFT special assistant to the president, Kris Mallory believes there are legal questions that could end up being answered in court.

“We say that it doesn’t meet constitutional muster, we will go after them likely on that argument of the law,” Mallory said,” But, we held off and we want to make sure that we don’t file a lawsuit that gets kicked out because we can’t prove harm or damages at this point.”

Mon County school officials have until October 31 to submit a notice of deficiencies to the West Virginia Academy and they have until Monday, November 16 to address them.