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Charlotte Charter Trying To Regain Tax-Exempt Status

North Carolina’s charter school law doesn’t get much more basic than this: all charters must be operated by a board that has federal tax-exempt status. Charlotte Choice Charter lost that status recently. That earned the school the scrutiny of the state’s charter advisory board Tuesday. 

Charlotte Choice Charter opened three years ago in east Charlotte.  It has filed all of its tax returns late. The school board’s chairwoman Linda Cruz told the advisory board that was the fault of the school’s auditors. 

“The auditors shared that they would fix the problem. However, again, it was an oversight. The problem was not fixed,” said Cruz.

She said the IRS is in the process of re-instating the school’s tax-exempt status. The advisory board that oversees the state’s charter schools found other problems with the school. Charlotte Choice started the school year with 327 students and is now down 41 kids. It’s gone through two principals. Cruz blamed the latest one for driving students away. 

“This was the very first year where we experienced such turbulence in the enrollment. And so the board made a decision, in lieu of that, that they would allow the current administrator to resign,” said Cruz.

Cruz says the school is okay financially, since they let some staff go. The school is waiting for the summer to hire a principal. Till then, Cruz will help lead the school. Her son is in charge of the school’s transportation, and the business manager used to lead a charter the state shut down for academic reasons in 2012.

Two other Charlotte charter schools went before the advisory board. Charlotte Learning Academy, a high school in south Charlotte, is struggling financially largely due to lower than expected enrollment. So is Invest Collegiate near uptown Charlotte.  

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.