CAMDEN — A city charter school, where a security liaison continues to work despite being charged with aggravated assault on a student, is facing a series of issues.I can't even work up my customary snark for this; it's disgusting. Where the hell was the state when this was going on?
Among the problems at Distinctions in Urban Education Season Charter School are:
• Poor academic performance heading into the year before its charter is up for state renewal.
• A staff turnover rate approaching 50 percent a year — and separate police investigations into the security worker and a former employee.
• Pervasive nepotism — the school employs five members of the same family — that would be banned by proposed state legislation.
Most recently, the school is under scrutiny for the actions of Lawrence Carpenter, its security liaison and the son of Doris Carpenter, founder, chief executive officer and principal.
On April 17, Lawrence Carpenter grabbed 13-year-old Yontre Stanton around the neck with one hand and held him for 19 seconds, as seen in a video obtained by the Courier-Post. Camden police have charged Lawrence Carpenter with aggravated assault, and he is under investigation by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
A police investigation also continues into alleged activities by Nelson Olivo, a former media specialist at the school, a law enforcement source said last week. Among other allegations, some parents have claimed Olivo acted inappropriately toward young girls at the school, including sending late-night text messages.Dear lord. And, of course...
Olivo, who is said to have left the area, could not be reached for comment.
Ralph Green, the board president, said the school’s academic results “were no better and no worse” than other Camden schools.The article says Sen. Donald Norcross is going to introduce legislation to ban the hiring of family members at charters. That's fine, but it won't stop the hiring of friends and cronies, will it?
But the school’s turnover rate is dreadful.
The student “mobility rate” — a measure of turnover — was 44.4 percent at Season. The state average is just 10 percent.
The faculty mobility rate is even worse at 46.2 percent, a strong indicator of dissatisfaction and poor morale among staff. And it has increased during each of the past three years.
These indicators will be a factor when a renewal of the school’s charter is considered next year. The DOE did not respond to a request for comment on Season’s performance indicators.
Despite issues, Season is apparently a good place to work — for the five members of the Carpenter family who work there.
The school’s founder, Doris Carpenter, serves as chief executive officer and principal.
Her son Lawrence Carpenter is the accused security liaison.
Olivia Glenn, the school’s spokeswoman and development manager, is Doris Carpenter’s daughter.
Alexandra Carpenter, another daughter, is an administrative assistant.
And Meredis Hill, Doris Carpenter’s sister, is the human resources director.
Current and former staff and parents last week said the staffing made for an atmosphere where people were either considered with the Carpenters and their allies — or against them.
I'd like to remind everyone of how awesome charters like Distinctions fit into the awesome "reform" plan of Chris Christie:
So gutting tenure and the Merit Pay Fairy will eventually save us all. But, until then, let's expand "choices" like Distinctions. So the "kids don't get lost."Q. And is tenure reform the most important part of that?A. I see tenure, merit pay and OSA as a bundle. I’d like to see them all go together. By repairing the tenure system, we’ll be able to get rid of some ineffective teachers, but then we’ve got to get effective ones in there and it’s going to be years and years. So that’s why I think OSA is such an important part, and increasing charter schools in urban areas, so that those kids don’t get lost while the fixes of tenure and merit pay are fixing the system in a 10-year horizon. [emphasis mine]