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Reynolds turns down Dunton's charter proposal

In a 5-0 vote, the Reynolds School Board said it had too many concerns, unanswered questions

The Reynolds School Board soundly rejected Bob Dunton’s proposal for a 52,000-square-foot charter school, voting 5-0 to deny his application for The Egan School, Rockwood Wednesday night.

Dunton, his wife, Sheri, and Kieran Egan are expected to receive a written explanation of the board’s decision in the mail.

The Duntons brought their supporters from the Corbett Charter School, just as they had for a Sept. 24 public hearing on the charter.

Sheri Dunton and Rockwood community activist Catherine Nicewood spoke on behalf of the charter, urging its approval before the vote.

Shortly after the decision, Dunton posted comments on the Facebook page of The Egan School, Rockwood.

“This slows us down but doesn’t stop us,” he wrote. “There will be opportunity for an appeal, perhaps to the district and also to the state. We’ll see what looks reasonable when we receive the written response. My short version? They are looking for classical ballet and we do improvisational jazz ...”

The Duntons’ proposal for a charter school was first denied by the Reynolds School District on Oct. 8, 2009. They returned with an application in March 2014 after the Corbett School District pulled the plug on their lease agreement for Corbett Charter.

After several revisions at the prompting of the Reynolds School District, the applicants arrived at a final draft July 31.

Board Chairman Bruce McCain said he thought of Reynolds as one of the most charter-friendly districts that welcomed the concept of giving parents options and choices. However, he had become one of the toughest critics of KNOVA (a district charter school that has been plagued with financial issues and received notice last year it had breached its charter agreement).

“I have several serious questions that remain unanswered,” McCain said.

Board member Diego Hernandez said that after reviewing state statutes suggesting how the board should review the proposal, he did not find the proposal met the majority of them.

Board members suggested the Duntons revise and resubmit their application or bring it up with the Department of Education.

Dunton wrote on Facebook that the applicants would still appeal for the K-8 program, which he believes has “revolutionary potential,” but would “let them consider a 9-12 program that would relocate the academic center of gravity in Multnomah County to somewhere around 192nd and Stark.”

“Although we had plenty of time to prepare, bad news made official still hits hard,” Dunton wrote on The Egan School Facebook page Thursday morning. “We will do better next time!”

He wrote that “a no vote is another step toward ‘yes’ down the road.”

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