Patrick Anderson at the Gloucester Times reports today that Superior Court Judge Richard Welch III found that
the case presents “considerable evidence” that the state education commissioner and Board of Education “blatantly ignored and violated state law when granting the GCA charter for political reasons.”
While he dismissed the parents’ argument that the commissioner is legally bound to follow the recommendation of his Charter School Office, Welch — echoing state Sen. Bruce Tarr and state Inspector General Gregory Sullivan — said there is no evidence Chester made any attempt to independently judge the application against the established criteria.
“… There is a strong factual showing that the Commissioner, despite his affidavit to the contrary, did not perform his own independent evaluation of the GCA application but, to the contrary, ignored the state regulations and caved to political pressure to recommend the project to a Board eager to approve at least one charter application regardless of its merit,” Welch wrote.
Welch denied the bid by a group of local parents to keep the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School from opening, but the finding on the way Commissioner Chester acted may explain why personnel in the state’s charter school office, which provides technical assistance and provides recommendations to the Commissioner on new charter approval, is heading for the exits. Three people in the office have announced their departure in just the last three months.