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Vander Ark's Plan to Open Charter Schools Collapses

After spending about $1.5 million of investor money on setting up a network of four charter schools in the New York City and New Jersey region, Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director of education for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has backed away from the plan, frustrating investors and others involved in the project, reports The New York Times.

Vander Ark cited the economy as well as challenges in obtaining charters from New York and New Jersey as impediments to the overall success of the charter network, which he proposed to be a series of schools designed to blend face-to-face and online learning strategies. Three of the schools were set to open this fall, says the article, with expertise from Vander Ark's company OpenEd Solutions.

Although Vander Ark insists he communicated his difficulties along the way with those he worked with and the board of directors of the proposed schools, those folks claim they were not informed of the challenges Vander Ark faced, the article says. Although the charters were approved for the schools, Vander Ark was unable to raise the money to open them, which at least one of the schools did not find out until late this spring, the Times reports.

Despite the disappointing realization that the schools would not be able to open this fall, all three schools-in-progress are seeking opening in the fall of 2012—without Vander Ark's involvement.

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