Two weeks after the Muscogee County School Board voted 5-3 to table for three months the superintendent’s controversial recommendation to hire Camelot Education, a private, for-profit company based in Austin, Texas, to run three alternative education programs for $6.4 million annually, a group of parents will conduct a public forum to discuss other options.
The forum is scheduled for Monday, starting at 5:30 p.m., in Side A of the Synovus Room at the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road.
Waleisah Wilson, founder and president of NewLife-Second Chance Outreach Inc., a nonprofit organization helping former inmates transition back into the Columbus community, announced the forum in a news release.
Wilson emphasized in the email accompanying the news release, “Please note that this meeting will NOT be to discuss Camelot.”
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Instead, the news release says, “Parents of children who will be directly impacted are encouraged to attend to tell their stories and to offer suggestions of what they would like to see implemented to better serve their child.
“There will be a panel consisting of parents, retired educators and qualified specialists from several different disciplines. This meeting will be solely to seek ALTERNATIVE solutions to Camelot.
“Those who plan to attend and would like to invite a qualified specialist or expert who is willing to offer their services and work with the community towards the common goal of providing alternative solutions to Camelot are encouraged to do so.”
During the April 10 board meeting, Wilson was among the residents who spoke about superintendent David Lewis’ proposal during the public agenda. She said she removed her child from the Muscogee County School District two years ago “for lack of concern,” called the proposal “an undercover and quick decision that reeks of dishonesty” and asserted Camelot comes with “too many issues of allegations of abuse.”
Camelot has partnered with nearly 250 school districts across 43 campuses in six states, but MCSD would be its first district in Georgia. A March 8 story titled “That Place Was Like a Prison” on the website Slate.com reported allegations of Camelot employees abusing students with overly aggressive discipline in five cities: Reading, Pa.; Lancaster, Pa.; Philadelphia; New Orleans; and Pensacola, Fla.
In its 17-page response to Slate’s questions, Camelot wrote, “With the exception of an isolated incident in Reading, PA in which we immediately investigated and terminated multiple employees, Camelot has had no founded child abuse cases or lawsuits involving our students over the last decade. Your narrative is formulated using fewer than 10 incidents from the almost 5,940,000 daily interactions over a period of 10 years.”