The Gulenists must think that people in Alabama are easy marks. They proposed to open a charter school in a rural county with good schools that didn’t want a charter school. Everyone warned Alabama officials to reject the proposal, even the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, hired by the state for $100,000 to vet charters.

Not only did Alabama approve the charter, but the guy brought in to run in will have a base salary of $300,000 in one of the poorest states in the nation.

This is a story you have to read to believe. Follow the money. It was written by Josh Moon and posted at the Alabama Political Reporter website.

“Located in rural Washington County, Woodland Prep, which will open as a K-7 school this fall and add a grade level each year, is everything state leaders assured us could never happen under Alabama’s charter school laws.

“Its land is owned by a shady Utah holding company. Its building is owned by a for-profit Arizona company. It will be managed by a for-profit Texas company that doesn’t employ a single Alabamian. It will pay the head of that management company around $300,000 per year — up front. Its application was rejected by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, which Alabama pays a hefty sum to review and approve charter applications. Woodland’s management plan failed to meet basic standards for approval in any of the three plan areas reviewed by NACSA.

“Woodland also is not welcome in Washington County, where residents turned up at a 10-1 ratio to speak out against it last year during community meetings. And maybe most importantly, the school is not needed in the poverty-stricken county, where not a single school is failing, most exceed state averages and students are free to attend any school in the county they wish.

“We never thought this school would be approved,” said Betty Brackin, an employee of the Washington County school system and an outspoken opponent of Woodland. “Before we knew any of the things about who was running it or all of that, we knew that only a small number of people in this county — people who were upset for personal reasons … with the public school system — they’re the only ones who wanted it. The rest of this county is not for this, and we’ve let everyone know it.”

“But Woodland was approved by the Alabama Charter School Commission, which appeared to violate at least three of its responsibilities in doing so.

“The Commission ignored the community outcry against Woodland and failed to even discuss the need — or lack thereof — for a charter school in the county. Both of those are specific requirements within Alabama’s charter school law for the Commission to consider during its public meetings.

“Additionally, charter schools approved in Alabama are, according to Alabama’s law, required to meet “national standards.” To assure those standards are met, Alabama lawmakers assured a concerned public that a “top-notch” national body — to quote two state representatives — would be contracted to review every application before those applications would be considered by the Commission. NACSA is that group, and Alabama pays it nearly $100,000 per year to review applications, and then the Commission ignores its advice.

“Woodland Prep’s was at least the third charter application that NACSA rejected for very specific, very detailed reasons. For example, in questioning Woodland’s operational plan, the NACSA reviewers had concerns about its hiring of Unity School Services to perform management and education services. It was unclear why USS was selected, if the company — which had just eight total employees, none of which were in Alabama — could even do the job, and what expertise it had in such areas.

“NACSA also noted that Woodland’s education plan included very few details, especially for a school scheduled to open the next school year, and had failed to identify key partnerships or assign key roles.

Commission Failings

“None of that mattered to the Commission, though. It approved Woodland’s application, and from what I can tell, the application was never reviewed by any other outside entity. (Other charter applications rejected by NACSA and later approved by the Commission were at least approved by a different entity.)

“I asked the Alabama State Department of Education, which has oversight responsibilities of the Charter School Commission, to explain why the application was approved after being rejected by NACSA and/or to provide me with an approval of an amended application by NACSA or another group. There was no response.”

Please read the rest of the post. The story gets worse as the details of the deal are explained.