State officials have agreed to meet with a nonprofit organization that oversees BlueSky Online School to get more information before following through on a threat to close the charter school.
Novation Education Opportunities, which sponsors BlueSky, had faced a Monday deadline to tell the state whether it will end its contract with the school, effectively shutting it down. But the group needs more time to review documents that led the state to conclude BlueSky is allowing students to graduate without meeting state requirements, Novation's executive director said in a letter to the state Monday.
Problems at BlueSky have persisted despite a series of audits and warnings that began two years ago, the Minnesota Department of Education has said. Two weeks ago, department officials said they would start the process of closing the school themselves if Novation missed Monday's deadline or refused to act.
In his letter, Novation Executive Director Bryan Rossi asked for a meeting with state officials to "address issues and new information" about the investigation of BlueSky. It's unclear what those issues are. Rossi did not respond to messages left for him on Tuesday.
State officials hope to meet with Novation by the end of the week, department spokeswoman Charlene Briner said.
BlueSky officials insist the school is following the law and that all 10 of its midyear graduates completed the proper course work. A spokesman for the school, Dan Cook, said Monday that the state's interpretation of BlueSky transcripts was faulty. "Things were flat-out missed. Incorrect transcripts were reviewed."
BlueSky, based in West St. Paul, has about 620 students in grades 7-12.
Novation also oversees TEAM Academy in Waseca and Great River Education Center in Waite Park, and was approved this week to take on Avalon School in St. Paul, according to the Education Department. Novation also has applied to authorize Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA), state officials said.
TiZA, a charter school with campuses in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine, is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota for allegedly promoting religion. The legal battle has strained the school's relations with state officials and its current authorizer, Islamic Relief USA. Islamic Relief is ineligible to continue overseeing TiZA under a new state law that bans out-of-state authorizers.