Under the Dome

Outgoing senator wants charter school process reviewed

Republican State Sen. Wes Westmoreland, a Shelby businessman, served one year in the legislature. He was appointed to replace the retiring Sen. Debbie Clary and didn't seek re-election. But before he left, the Republican lawmaker made sure to get one more pet cause on a legislative study list.

At the one of the final meetings of the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Committee, Westmoreland made a stink about what he saw as the N.C. Department of Public Instruction's sluggish efforts to approve "fast track" charter schools applications.

He asked the committee -- which researches topics for lawmakers -- to study how the state manages charter schools and how North Carolina can speed its process.

After the meeting last month, Westmoreland acknowledged that he had more than a casual interest in the topic. His frustration stems from personal experience because is a member of the board of directors at Pinnacle Classical Academy, a proposed charter school that applied for fast-track approval in Cleveland County but is awaiting the final go-ahead. His predecessor Clary, now a lobbyist, is also a board member.

"I'm not convinced we are doing everything we can to have successful startups," he said.

His push appears to have worked. Program Evaluation staffers said at the meeting that they would put the report on its 2013 list.

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