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Shining Rock Classical Academy timeline

July 2015: Shining Rock Classical Academy, a brand-new taxpayer-funded public charter school governed by an unelected public board, violates closed-session laws pertaining to property acquisition before it even opens by refusing to name the parcel in question.

August 2015: Shining Rock opens its doors to students for the very first time.

September 2016: State school performance data shows Shining Rock earning a score of 70, just above Haywood County Schools’ score of 66.8.

September 2017: State school performance data shows Shining Rock earning a score of 65, just below HCS’ score of 68, which again places HCS in the top 10 percent of all school districts in the State of North Carolina. 

Oct. 20, 2017: Shining Rock violates public meeting notice requirements by sending out notice of special called meeting less than 48 hours prior to the meeting’s commencement, in violation of state law. During that hastily-called Sunday night meeting, founding Head of School Ben Butler resigns.

Jan. 17, 2018: Shining Rock again violates public meeting notice requirements by improperly rescheduling a meeting.

Jan. 23, 2018: Shining Rock hires Nathan Duncan to replace Butler as the new head of school. 

September 2018: State school performance data shows Shining Rock’s scores decline for the second straight year to 56, now well below the county average of 67.1 and just below the state average of 58.

Feb. 21, 2019: Shining Rock’s second Head of School, Nathan Duncan, is fired by the board without explanation. 

May 8, 2019: Shining Rock holds a two-hour closed session to discuss hiring a new head of school. Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan emerges as a leading candidate. Board Chair Anna Eason tells The Smoky Mountain News she hopes a hire will take place at the next meeting, on May 15. 

May 9, 2019: Parents of three students file formal complaints against Morgan, alleging multiple instances of improper disciplinary procedures. One initiates an investigation by the Waynesville Police Department. Shining Rock’s board-appointed attorney, David Hostettler, subsequently tells SMN that he will serve as the grievance facilitator, investigate the allegations, and make written recommendations to the board no later than June 7. 

May 15, 2019: Shining Rock Board Chair Anna Eason steps down. Michelle Haynes, a board member for 11 months, is appointed new chair by the board. No head of school hire is made while Shining Rock’s attorney continues his investigation. 

May 29, 2019: Reporting by SMN News Editor Jessi Stone reveals former head of school Nathan Duncan was fired after Shining Rock’s attorney found allegations of sexual harassment made against Duncan by a teacher to be credible. 

June 6, 2019: Shining Rock again violates public meeting notice requirements by not sending out the required notice of an upcoming meeting. During that meeting, the board’s grievance committee dismisses multiple allegations of improper disciplinary procedures by the school’s then-interim head, Joshua Morgan. 

June 19, 2019: While passing its 2019-20 budget Shining Rock announces it expects lower enrollment for the coming school year. 

June 19, 2019: SMN sends a list of questions to Shining Rock about the June 6 illegal meeting and the lower enrollment projections. No reply is received. 

June 20, 2019: District Attorney Ashley Welch declines to charge Morgan with any crimes related to a Waynesville Police Department investigation into a Shining Rock parent’s contention that Morgan had been unusually forceful with her child.

June 24, 2019: SMN sends a reminder email about the questions sent June 19. No reply is received. 

June 27, 2019: Shining Rock hires Joshua Morgan for the permanent head of school position, its third in less than four school years. His one-year contract pays $75,000. 

June 27, 2019: SMN sends a list of questions to Shining Rock about the hiring of Morgan. No reply is received. 

June 30, 2019: SMN sends a reminder email to Shining Rock about the questions sent June 27. No reply is received. 

July 1, 2019: SMN sends a reminder email to Shining Rock about the questions sent June 27. No reply is received. 

July 22, 2019: SMN sends an email to Shining Rock asking about procedures in the event of a measles case at the school. Shining Rock has the highest rate of unvaccinated students in Haywood County. No reply is received.

July 29, 2019: Shining Rock calls a special meeting for Aug.1, during which it intends to consider adopting an electronic communications policy and hold a closed session regarding property acquisition. 

July 29, 2019: The Smoky Mountain News requests a copy of the proposed electronic communications policy.

July 30, 2019: More than 24 hours after making the request and just over 48 hours before the Aug. 1 meeting, SMN receives from Shining Rock the electronic communications policy, which wasn’t otherwise publicly available for viewing before the meeting.

Aug. 1, 2019: According to The Mountaineer newspaper, Shining Rock files paperwork with Waynesville’s Development Services Department “just hours” ahead of the special called meeting, outlining a plan for a new facility. Like the electronic communications policy, the development documents weren’t otherwise publicly available for viewing before the meeting.

Aug. 1, 2019: During the special called meeting, Shining Rock tables the electronic communications policy it drafted because a portion of it violates the board’s own existing policy. During that same special called meeting, Shining Rock holds a three-hour closed session for a purpose not recognized by N.C. law, “facilities.”

Aug. 3, 2019: Shining Rock calls another special meeting with a similar closed session — related to property acquisition — on the agenda.

Aug. 5, 2019: Shining Rock’s second special called meeting in four days begins with a unanimous vote to strike the closed session from the agenda. Head of School Joshua Morgan then gives a “first day of school” update and reports enrollment of just 304 students, dramatically lower than projected and far lower than in any previous year besides the school’s first year. The board then votes unanimously to cease all discussions on the new facilities plan.

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