Local charter school parent to serve on state advisory board

RALEIGH – A Mountain Island Charter School parent and school-choice advocate has been tapped by Gov. Bev Perdue to fill a spot on a state advisory board responsible for creating standards for granting, renewing and rejecting school charters.
Kwan Graham, of Charlotte, is one of eight council members picked by Perdue to serve on N.C. Public Charter School Advisory Council Sept. 1.
“The primary goal of this council is to – one – oversee the process of accepting applications for charter schools and approving them,” Graham said. “Our recommendations for acceptance will then go to the state Board of Education.”
The council is the product of legislation passed earlier this year that lifted the 100-school cap on the number of charter schools allowed to operate in the state. Although earlier drafts of the bill sought to create a charter school advisory board independent from the state board of education, lawmakers split primarily between party lines compromised by lifting the cap, yet continuing to place the state board as the ultimate authority on charter school matters.
“(Lawmakers) wanted a body of the community to have input as the new charter schools are created, and that’s what this council is,” Graham said. “It is, from the community, the voice for charter schools.”
According to Graham, the board also will give recommendations on policies concerning charter school operations and review and make recommendations for the renewal of existing charters. Eight of the boards members are appointed by the governor, three by the Senate President Pro Tempore, three by the speaker of the House of Representatives and one by the state Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Graham has worked with the pro-charter school organization Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina as the coordinator of its Parent Liaison Initiative, which kicked-off in March. As the initiative’s coordinator, Graham helped educated parents across the state about school choice.
“We’re thrilled that the governor has selected Kwan as one of her nominees and we are equally thrilled with the list of appointees so far,” said the organization’s president Darrell Allison in a news release. “Kwan has worked with PEFNC in helping to educate parents on how to become stronger advocates for their child’s education and that experience will serve her will in recommending public charters that will best serve our families.”
Graham’s two sons, Zhen and Mason, ages 10 and 12, both attend Mountain Island Charter School in Mount Holly. Zhen also was recently elected student body vice-president.
“It’s kind of neat,” said Mary Smith, the school’s communication manager enrichment program director. “Like mother, like son.”

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