Paul Norcross, apparently appointed to board by Phil Berger, denied charter school due to "conflict of interest"

"When Paul Norcross announced in mid-November that he was planning to found a charter school in Jamestown, conventional wisdom had it that it was a done deal. He was, after all, cofounder of the successful Phoenix Academy in High Point, cofounder and chairman of the N.C. Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and a member of the Public Charter School Advisory Council to the N.C. State Board of Education.

So much for conventional wisdom.

Last Tuesday, Jan. 10, ...Norcross's school, Mendenhall Country Day, was the odd man out.

While there were several factors in Mendenhall's rejection by the council, ironically, it may have been Norcross's statewide influence that worked against him. The fear among some members of the council was that this could be perceived as an “inside job,” and that Norcross may have some conflicts of interest, even though he recused himself from the vote and did not participate in the interview process. In fact, according to a blog post by Greensboro News & Record reporter Morgan Josey Glover, one member of the council stated, “I think we are going to be under a lot of scrutiny. We have to maintain arms length from anything that smacks of conflict of interest.”

...Those conflict-of-interest charges were also leveled against Norcross the week before Christmas by the then-president of the N.C. Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Eddie Goodall. A former state senator, Goodall issued a statement saying he had resigned from the Alliance and formed his own rival group, called the N.C. Public Charter Schools Association.

...Norcross ...and all 15 members, are appointed by the governor, the state legislature and the state superintendent."

"Norcross suggested prisons as an area where cost savings through privatization might be explored.

Norcross grew up in Asia. His family had a furniture company in the Philippines and a trading company in Hong Kong."

Norcross, the chair of the group Goodall recently left, maintained that Goodall’s departure was part of a long-term plan to restructure the N.C. Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
“We’ve had our strategic plan on going forward,” Norcross said. “That’s really been the plan.”
Norcross also said he didn’t see any conflict between running an education management organization, serving on a state advisory committee for charter schools and being a board chair for a charter school organization. He abstains from voting on any issues that affect the schools he runs, and has been upfront with his different roles, he said.
If there was a conflict, someone would have already mentioned it, he said.
“The legislature appointed me and the governor didn’t complain when I was appointed,” Norcross said. “If anyone would have thought it would have been inappropriate, they wouldn’t have asked me to serve.”

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