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Judge Recommends Minnesota Education Department's Termination of BlueSky's Contract be 'Rescinded and the Matter Dismissed'
Nov 23, 2011 (04:11 PM EST)
Judge concurs with BlueSky and finds no major or repeated violation of the law; finds department's review procedure was 'made up' and unfair because the process lacked clarity
ST. PAUL, Minn., Nov. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- BlueSky Online School, a leading Minnesota online high school, today announced an Administrative Law Judge has recommended the school's contract NOT be terminated — something the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has pursued for more than one year. Based on the evidence and expert testimony received during a three-day hearing in September, the judge found no "major" or "repeated" violations of the law.
The findings of fact and conclusions of law issued by the judge also noted several errors in MDE's evaluation of graduation credits, and found the process was predicated on an unpromulgated rule. In fact, MDE witnesses testified they "made up" the procedure from pieces of other processes, and the judge found there was no "certainty and clarity for it to be fair."
"This is an important victory for charter schools, as well as traditional schools in Minnesota," said School Director Dr. Donald Hainlen. "In addition to the damage done to our reputation and student enrollment, this process has revealed some significant issues with the perception and enforcement of K-12 curriculum standards and benchmarks."
"When social studies standards alone carry more than 400 benchmarks, and the violation of even one of those is considered a violation of the law, every school in Minnesota should be concerned," said Hainlen. "Having the department review and dispute a school's curriculum in such an arbitrary and ambiguous manner is something that cries out for legislative policy reform."
School officials remain optimistic that the school will now be able to rebuild its reputation and once again increase student enrollment. Online education continues to grow in relevance and importance, as an alternative education solution to traditional classroom instruction.
BlueSky school attorney Cindy Lavorato added, "This is satisfying vindication for a good school. BlueSky has a history of compliance with state requirements, and a track record of continued efforts to improve. BlueSky's focus should now be able to return to where it should have been all along, educating their students. Parents and prospective students alike can feel confident enrolling their students again at BlueSky. They will receive a quality education and an approved Minnesota high school diploma."
About BlueSky Online School
BlueSky Online School is a leading online public charter school that offers an alternative learning option for a wide range of students throughout Minnesota. BlueSky's unique personal approach to online learning is unmatched by other online high schools. Contact the school at 651-642-0888, or visit the school's Web site at www.blueskyschool.org.
SOURCE BlueSky Online School