University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

New Charter Authorizing Panel Members Named and Meeting Dates Announced

In The View from the OEP on August 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

During the 2013 session, legislators passed Act 509, which created a 5 to 11 person panel within the Department of Education with members appointed by the Commissioner of Education. The intent of the law was to relieve the State Board of Education of the time-consuming responsibility of overseeing the authorization, renewal, revision, and revocation of charters. The law was also intended to create a more impartial board, using the logic that a members of a bureaucratic board would be more insulated from political considerations than politically-appointed State Board of Education members.

This morning, Commissioner Tom Kimbrell announced the members of the new Charter Authorizing Panel. Members include:

  • Dr. Tom Kimbrell, Commissioner of Education, Chair
  • Dr. Megan Witonski, Assistant Commissioner, Learning Services, Vice-Chair
  • Jim Boardman, Assistant Commissioner, Director of Research and Technology
  • Mike Hernandez, Assistant Commissioner, Fiscal and Administrative Services
  • John Hoy, Assistant Commissioner, Academic Accountability
  • Dr. Karen Walters, Assistant Commissioner, Human Resources and Licensure
  • Deborah Coffman, Chief of Staff

During this first meeting, the panel approved the following meeting dates for the 2013-14 school year. Each meeting will take place in the ADE auditorium and will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Open-Enrollment Charter Applicant Hearings

  • November 12, 2013
  • November 13, 2013

District Conversion Charter Applicant Hearings

  • January 15, 2014
  • January 16, 2014

Other Meetings

  • February 12, 2014
  • April 16, 2014
  • May 14, 2014

It will be interesting to see if, as some predict, this new Charter Authorizing Panel will be more open to new charter applicants than the State Board of Education. We will be following the meetings this year, so check in with the OEP for the latest news on the panel’s activities.

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