Soner Tarim of Sugarland, TX owns Unity School Services. This company has management contracts with both Woodland Prep charter in Washington County, AL and LEAD Academy in Montgomery, AL. The applications seeking approval as a charter school were reviewed for both schools by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
NACSA is based in Chicago and was retained by the Alabama charter school commission in 2015 because of their expertise and experience in reviewing charter application. They have reviewed more than 500 applications in the last 10 years. Records show Alabama paid them $113,000.
Tarim is trying to open eight new charters in Texas which he calls Royal Public Schools. He was interviewed by the Texas Education Agency on May 23, 2019 as part of the application process. During this interview he was questioned about why the Woodland Prep proposal, which he said he prepared, was recommended to be denied by NACSA.
He stated that NACSA does not know how to grade applications and that the Alabama charter school commission did not either until he taught them how.
So basically, Tarim has said that he prepared the application for Woodland Prep—and then had great input as to how it was graded.
Shortly after NACSA reviewed the applications for Woodland Prep and LEAD Academy, their contract with Alabama was not renewed. The charter commission signed a new contract with the Auburn Center for Evaluation which is a unit of the College of Education at Auburn University.
How many charter applications had the center reviewed at the time they were retained by the charter commission? (I have tried to get the answer to this question without success.)
Was this contract bid by the charter commission?
This information is stunning and a deep look at how the Alabama charter commission works. And you have to ask if they are, in fact, being manipulated by Tarim.
I have never heard of an instance where an agency puts out a Request for Proposals–and then lets one of those who submitted a proposal turn around and give input as to how it should be graded.
Something is very, very wrong with this picture and why I told a House committee recently that the legislature should launch an investigation into how the charter commission conducts business.
The terms of five members of the present charter commission board expire this coming Friday, May 31, 2019. The Governor appoints two of these members, the Speaker appoints two and the Senate President Pro Tem appoints one. Given what we now know, NONE of them should be reappointed.