Charter Seeks Recourse

By Shelley Widhalm, Reporter-Herald Staff Writer
Proponents appeal denied application to open Loveland Classical Schools

The four founders of a proposed charter school that was denied by the Thompson District school board submitted an appeal Friday to the State Board of Education.

The Board of Education for the Thompson School District had denied their application two days earlier to open Loveland Classical Schools — a K-12 charter school with a Core Knowledge curriculum focused on classical education.

The school is proposed to open in fall 2011.

“We still believe that there is a need, and we are within our legal rights to form the school,” said Trisha Coberly, founder of the school with Tamara Cramer, Rod Otero and Rob Protzman, all of Loveland.

The founders said in their appeal, “The local Board of Education’s purported reasons for denying LCS’s application are both legally and factually deficient.”

The board “considers the school to be an unwarranted financial burden on the district and it does not want the school to compete with the traditional public schools in the district,” the founders said in the appeal.

“That’s not the reason for the denial,” said Lucille Steiner, Thompson school board president.

Steiner said the claims in the appeal are not stated in the board’s resolution denying the application. “You can have that opinion, but it’s not a reason to deny the application.”

The board denied the application, Steiner said, because it is incomplete in several areas. At Wednesday’s school board meeting, members listed the financial plan and various accountability requirements as being lacking.

Ron Cabrera, superintendent of schools, said the founders have the right to appeal.

The Board of Education will have to submit to the state a rationale for its decision to deny, Cabrera said.

Before the meeting, the district staff prepared two resolutions, one approving and one denying the application, each with several bullet points, Cabrera said.

The final resolution, under state law, could not be drafted after the meeting, he said.

“It may appear as if something was premeditated,” Cabrera said.

The founders did not have the opportunity to speak to the public regarding the board’s questions and concerns about the application they submitted August 24, Coberly said.

“It was our understanding that we would be allowed to,” she said.

Coberly and the founders talked with the board for an hour Wednesday during the board work session, which was open to the public, before the regular meeting.

Steiner chose that option to provide the founders with an informal setting, she said.

The founders sat at the table with the board but could have invited others to the meeting because it was an open, public session she said.

“I thought it would be a friendlier atmosphere than in this room,” Steiner said.

The board suggested the founders work with the district on their ideas, such as by opening a school of innovation, which has flexibility within state law, or a school-within-a-school that has its own educational program, staff and students within a larger school.

The State Board of Education has 60 days from the date the appeal is filed to give a determination, Coberly said.