One of the seven charter schools that applied to open in West Virginia has withdrawn its application.
“We will resubmit pretty soon, probably in the spring, but we do intend to go forward,” said Lee Jones, a flight instructor and chairman of the board of the proposed Shepherd Aviation Academy. The school would draw up to 360 9th- through 12th-graders from Jefferson and Berkeley counties
All seven charters applied to the West Virginia Professional Charter School Board, a new state entity, for approval. That entity will decide this month which charters may open next fall. Those decisions could come as soon as its 8 a.m. online meeting Wednesday.
Jones said his proposed charter isn’t planning to open until fall 2023 anyway, so it can wait until next year’s application cycle. He also mentioned wanting to see what happens with the lawsuit seeking to stop charters from opening without county voters’ approval.
This Professional Charter School Board, whose members are appointed by the governor and then confirmed or rejected by the West Virginia Senate, can approve online charters that operate statewide and brick-and-mortar charters — even in counties where the locally elected board of education opposes the school.
The lawsuit argues that part of the state constitution requires voter approval for charters.
The constitution says, “no independent free school district, or organization shall hereafter be created, except with the consent of the school district or districts out of which the same is to be created, expressed by a majority of the voters voting on the question.”
The Shepherd Aviation Academy’s application said, “the curriculum will be designed for students who have a passion for aviation and/or an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
“The diverse student population will have inside access to the largest airport in West Virginia, hosting the largest [A]ir [G]uard base in the state,” the application said. “Students will see firsthand how the science of aviation works. They will have direct access to aircraft and will be able to talk to professionals throughout the aviation industry.”