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If You’re Wondering About Haas Hall Academy (Arkansas), Read This Post.

January 2, 2019

The following post is written by Elizabeth Lyon-Ballay, who identifies herself as a “former professional violinist and public charter school teacher” and “current stay-at-home mom and agitator for change.”

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Elizabeth Lyon-Ballay

Lyon-Ballay has been exercising her right to view public records via Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Her desire to understand education in Arkansas stems from her “brief, tragic stint as a teacher in an open-enrollment charter school.” In this January 02, 2019, post, she offers extensive information gleaned from public records requests related to Haas Hall Academy, a Fayetteville, Arkansas, charter school with a student body notably lacking in special education students and English language learners, and including a mere 1% of black students.

Some excerpts from Layon-Ballay’s section about what she has “learned so far” from her Haas Hall Academy FOIA requests:

  • Haas Hall does not require all of their employees (who work daily with public schoolchildren) to have employment contracts or undergo background checks — even though the Arkansas Department of Education clearly requires it even for charter school staff.
  • Haas Hall doesn’t keep minutes from school board meetings that show a record of who is on the school board, which board members were present at each meeting, who was absent from each meeting, and what the vote on each agenda item was. That’s required by state law, too, since school board meetings are supposed to be the public’s opportunity to participate in school governance.
  • Haas Hall isn’t a sustainable public school. It’s a subsidized Potemkin village. Haas Hall has a huge slush fund in the form of a private foundation, so it doesn’t have to budget money to pay for “occupancy” expenses (its own buildings,) most of its advertising campaigns, or to reimburse its faculty/staff for their travel and lodging when they (frequently) represent the school at events that require hotel stays, restaurants, air fare, etc. …
  • Initially, the State Board of Education denied Haas Hall’s application to open new campuses in Springdale and Rogers. Haas Hall had been, demonstrably, circumventing the “open-enrollment” nature of its charter and enrolling students preferentially. (Yes, this is an open secret. No, that doesn’t make it okay.) Transcripts of the State Board of Education meeting on May 18, 2016 show board members raising questions regarding Haas Hall’s “improperly enrolled” students, and questions regarding the transparency and legitimacy of the “random drawing” enrollment lottery. For example, why would an application to take part in a random drawing ask potential students to describe their academic credentials? …

And here is my favorite:

  • Two Haas Hall students helped write the new lottery program. Dr. Martin Schoppmeyer, Jr. paid these teenagers for their work with envelopes of cash that he delivered, personally, to their AP Computer Science classroom.

There is much more to Lyon-Balley’s post, including (as one might expect in Arkansas, the Walton back yard) billionaire Walton family involvement. Those interested in Arkansas education– particularly the goings-on at Haas Hall Academy– may wish to follow Lyon-Balley’s writings as more of her requested FOIA information becomes available.

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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2 Comments
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Computer science classes will be data for the 2018-2019 Civl Rghts Data Collection.I kid you not. Maybe the lottery training and cash will count as college and career readiness.

  2. David Luce permalink

    Yikes! On my poor sainted public school teacher, school board member, Mother’s grave!

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