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RASMUSSON RESIGNS: Charter School Shakeup

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Dr. Nina Rasmusson, the director of the Des Moines Charter School, told Channel 13 a month ago that she had no plans to step down, but that’s just what she’s done.

Rasmusson’s resignation comes a little more than two weeks after her sister, Dr. Nancy Sebring, stepped down from her position as Des Moines Public Schools’ superintendent.

The resignation also follows complaints from teachers and parents about a lack of oversight and direction at the charter school.

In a statement last month, charter school teachers complained Rasmusson’s “overriding incompetency has crippled our progress at the school.”

Wednesday, Rasmusson submitted her resignation.

“I just believe Dr. Rasmusson did a phenomenal job at the school, against all odds,” says Teree Caldwell-Johnson, chair of the Des Moines School Board.

She would not say why Rasmusson resigned, but acknowledges in the future, the board will have a stronger relationship with the charter school’s advisory council.

“We’ve been engaging in conversation with the Charter School Advisory Committee about ways we can not only open up the lines of communication, but also identify ways that we can bring greater levels of accountability and establish a more firm relationship between the Charter board and the Des Moines board,” says Caldwell-Johnson.

In the last year, two-thirds of the charter school’s staff has left. It also lost more than 40-percent of the 104 students enrolled in the first year and more than 50 computers issued to students the first year were not returned -- adding up to a loss of $27,000.

Channel 13 has obtained receipts for what the state Department of Education says, may be questionable uses of tax dollars. Purchased were $725 worth of iCubs tickets, $585 in snacks, and party supplies including a cheesecake, a floral arrangement and a card for the boss for more than $42.

“If there is some sort of connection to student learning or some sort of service to the public, probably okay if it’s just a random act that has no story behind it, might be questionable,” says Jeff Berger, Deputy Director of the Iowa Department of Education.

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