In February, the board approved the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School, for grades 4-7, on Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s recommendation.
Gloucester officials opposed the school, saying it would drain resources to benefit an elite few.
Because the state’s charter school office determined the school didn’t meet the criteria for a charter, Chester had no authority to recommend it and the board had no authority to approve it, Sullivan said in the letter to the governor.
He said Chester wrongly thought the charter school office’s determination was advisory.
Chester had just received the letter Saturday and couldn’t comment before reviewing it, a spokeswoman said.
Gov. Deval Patrick said through a spokeswoman that he has confidence in Chester and the state education board.
Patrick “has been consistent and clear that review of the Gloucester charter required more transparency and has twice asked the board to restart its process and reconsider its decision,” spokeswoman Kimberly Haberlin said in a statement. “His view has not changed.”
This is not good news for the authors of the education bill awaiting House action. The bill gives lots of new power to the folks who created this mess. Lest we forget the words of Paul Reville:
From: Reville, Paul
Sent: Thursday, February 5, 2009, 11:54 p.m.
To: Chester, Mitchell D. (DOE)
Hope all’s well and warm in AZ. I appreciated our talk today and your openness and flexibility. This situation presents one of those painful dilemmas. In addition to being a no-win situation, it forces us into a political cul de sac where we could be permanently trapped. Our reality is that we have to show some sympathy in this group of charters or we’ll get permanently labeled as hostile and they will cripple us with a number of key moderate allies like the Globe and the Boston Foundation. Frankly, I’d rather fight for the kids in the Waltham situation, but it sounds like you can’t find a solid basis for standing behind that one. I’m not inclined to push Worcester, so that leaves Gloucester. My inclination is to think that you, I and the Governor all need to send at least one positive signal in this batch, and I gather that you think the best candidate is Gloucester. Can you see your way clear to supporting it? Would you want to do the financial trigger even in light of likely stimulus aid?
Thanks for not seeing this as an independence issue. It really is a matter of positioning ourselves so that we can be viable to implement the rest of our agenda. It’s a tough but I think necessary pill to swallow. Let’s discuss some more tomorrow.