Torchlight Academy

Torchlight Academy’s assets to be stored until judge determines ownership

BY: - July 8, 2022

The assets of the defunct Torchlight Academy charter school will be held in storage until a judge determines ownership, the school’s board of directors and the leader of its former management firm agreed Friday during a hearing in Wake County Superior Court. Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins oversaw Friday’s hearing. The management firm, Torchlight Academy […]

Demise of mismanaged charter school leaves some lamenting the loss

BY: - May 12, 2022

The state is closing Raleigh's Torchlight Academy because of repeated and serious management failures, but some of its strengths and accomplishments will be lost in the process Carla Peralta cried after getting the word that Torchlight Academy is closing due to fiscal and governance concerns uncovered during a state Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) investigation.

State Board of Education terminates Torchlight Academy’s charter. School will close for good June 30.

BY: - May 5, 2022

As was expected, the State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously agreed to terminate Torchlight Academy’s charter due to ongoing concerns about the school’s finances and governance. The board’s decision means more than 500 K-8 students from Wake and surrounding counties will be forced to find new schools in the fall. The school will close […]

State Board of Education panel rejects Torchlight Academy’s attempt to keep school from closing

BY: - April 28, 2022

A State Board of Education panel agreed Wednesday to recommend that Torchlight Academy in Raleigh close for good on June 30. Members of the state board’s Education Innovation and Charter Schools Committee (EICS) decision followed an impassioned push by Torchlight leaders to keep the K-8 school of roughly 550 students from closing. The state board […]

State Board of Education has ordered the ‘immediate’ closure of troubled Three Rivers Academy

BY: - April 11, 2022

In a stunning move last week, the State Board of Education (SBE) ordered the “immediate” closure of Three Rivers Academy charter school, contending its continued operation poses an “immediate threat” to students, school employees and the general public. The move sends the parents of a reported 85 students attending the low-performing school in Bertie County […]

Veteran educator Randy Bridges selected to lead Torchlight Academy

BY: - April 6, 2022

Torchlight Academy has turned to veteran educator Randy Bridges to lead the troubled charter school while its board of directors appeal a State Board of Education order to close due to numerous fiscal and management failures. Bridges was most recently interim superintendent of Chatham County Schools. He has also served as superintendent of districts in […]

Torchlight Academy’s board wants formal break from management firm

BY: - March 31, 2022

“In the best interest of the school,” the Torchlight Academy board of directors has requested that the State Board of Education (SBE) allow it to amend its charter to “formally” part ways with charter operator Don McQueen. The board of the troubled school, which is facing closure due to numerous fiscal and management failures, requested […]

Torchlight leaders and school’s board agree to ‘mutual separation’

BY: - March 15, 2022

Don McQueen and wife Cynthia McQueen no longer lead Torchlight Academy, Stephon Bowens, the attorney for the school’s board of directors confirmed Tuesday. Bowens told Policy Watch that the “parties have agreed to a mutual separation” from the school the couple has led for more than two decades. The “separation” comes on the heels of […]

Audits show lucrative family venture at soon-to-be shuttered charter school

BY: - March 14, 2022

Managing Raleigh's Torchlight Academy was a lucrative family venture for Don McQueen. The school paid McQueen nearly $3 million in management fees between 2016 and 2020, financial audits submitted by the school show.  The Raleigh businessman ran the K-8 charter school with a reported 600 students (state officials could only confirm 489 during a recent on-site headcount) through his educational management organization (EMO), Torchlight Academy Schools, LLC.


Raises in the state budget that fail to materialize, a controversial school has its license yanked, and toxic PFAS in our pine needles: The week’s top stories at Policy Watch

BY: - March 4, 2022

1. Pine needles can contain toxic PFAS compounds, according to NC State study Pine needles don’t lie. Scientists at NC State University have detected more than 70 types of toxic PFAS in pine needles, including extremely high levels of several compounds in needles collected near Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The findings, and others detailed in a […]

Repeated and serious management failures highlighted in recommendation to shutter once-promising charter school

BY: - March 2, 2022

State Board of Education is scheduled to consider recommendation to close Raleigh's Torchlight Academy Wednesday afternoon The state Charter School Advisory Board’s recommendation to close Torchlight Academy in Raleigh on Monday represented a dramatic fall from grace for Don McQueen, the owner of the firm managing the 23-year-old school.