In 2005 when Brian L. Carpenter became CEO of the National Charter Schools Institute at Central Michigan University, he already possessed a wealth of experience as an educator and a leader, having been in the Marine Corps for seven years (ultimately promoted ahead of his peers to the rank of Sergeant) and having been a school founder and leader for more than a decade afterwards.
As he contemplated which direction the Institute needed to take at that time, he realized that very few resources for governing boards existed. This led him to write Charter School Board University which eventually went into a second edition and is still considered by many to be the authoritative work on the topic. He is well known for his teachings on the differences between governance and management.
He went on to write a second book on strategic planning, also published by the Institute, while traveling and speaking at more than 50 state and national conferences over a four year period, training individual schools and finishing his PhD (completed in late 2008). By summer of 2009, he decided it was time to slow his pace, so he left the Institute to become a solopreneur consultant.
In addition to his two books, Brian has produced numerous white papers, podcasts, and training videos over the years. In the 2015-16 school year, he agreed to serve as interim head of school for York Preparatory Academy, a 1,500 student charter school (serving grades K-12) in Rock Hill, SC. In addition to helping the board identify a new permanent managing director, the school also achieved the status of distinction for both growth and achievement.
Brian has also worked closely with several authorizers and has conducted more than two-dozen governance-operations audits in the past few years. These assessments are generally used as part of the renewal decision-making process. Brian has also worked as a consultant for two attorneys (in defense of charter school boards) and has conducted many risk management assessments of schools for HighMark School Development, one of the leading charter school facility developers in the country.
Always a learner himself, in the summer of 2017, Brian completed a 12-credit hour graduate certificate in forensic accounting and fraud examination (FAFE) at West Virginia University and subsequently passed the exam to become a certified fraud examiner (CFE). He is passionate about preventing fraud, waste and abuse in charter schools.
Consultants can say anything they want about their own effectiveness. It may be valid information, but it’s subjective by definition. (Who doesn’t think they do a good job?) A better litmus test is whether a consultant is credible among his or her professional peers.
In Brian's case, your board can consider what other professionals within the charter sector think of his work. To answer that, here’s a partial list organizations in the charter school sector that are staffed by professionals that have engaged Brian to conduct training seminars or provide other assistance.
It’s also worth noting that almost any consultant can be retained by a few local clients, but a list this lengthy and geographically dispersed requires wide-ranging credibility established by repeated successes over time.
▪ Anchorage Public Schools
▪ Atlanta Public Schools
▪ Arkansas Department of Education
▪ Ball State University (Indiana)
▪ Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Louisiana)
▪ Charter School Administrative Office (Hawaii)
▪ Education Resource Center of Central Ohio
▪ Ferris State University (Michigan)
▪ Office of the Governor of Delaware
▪ Ohio Council of Community Schools
▪ South Carolina Public Charter School District
▪ Utah State Office of Education
State & National Associations
▪ Arizona Charter Schools Association
▪ Idaho Charter School Network
▪ Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools
▪ Missouri Charter Public School Association
▪ National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
▪ New Mexico Coalition of Charter Schools
▪ South Carolina Association of Public Charter Schools
▪ Texas Association of Public Charter Schools
▪ Utah Association of Public Charter Schools
▪ Accord Institute
▪ Alaine Locke Initiative
▪ Arizona State University
▪ California State University
Education Management Organizations/Charter Management Organizations
▪ Concept Schools
▪ K12, Inc.
▪ SABIS® Educational Systems, Inc.
▪ IDEA Public Schools
▪ Gordon & Rees
▪ Young, Minney & Corr LLP
▪ Zausmer, Caldwell & August, PC
▪ Highmark School Development
▪ Trained or evaluated more than 200 individual schools since 2005
"Over a period of about two years, we used Dr. Carpenter's expert assistance to completely makeover governance and operations. To say that he saved our school would be putting it mildly. YPA is flourishing today because we crossed paths with Dr. Carpenter at a critical time in our school's existence.”
Founding Board Chair
York Preparatory Academy
"Although we typically work half a continent apart, when Young, Minney & Corr LLP has needed expert board governance services, Dr. Carpenter has been our go to guy for years."
Paul Minney, ESQ
Young, Minney & Corr LLP
"I would strongly recommend Brian Carpenter ... He does the best job of anyone in the United States on charter school board training."
Louis J. Erste
Charter Schools Division Director
Georgia Department of Education
"Dr. Carpenter is the trailblazer in the art and business of charter public school governance and strategic planning. His Charter School Board University and The Seven Outs are widely acknowledged as the groundbreaking texts for board development, orientation and board retreats. He takes a seemingly dry topic, mixes it with a sharp sense of humor and years of ground-level charter public school experience to help boards and school leaders create the kinds of public schools to which we would send our own children."
Dr. Lisa S. Grover
"Dr. Carpenter's commitment to communicating the critical principles of charter school governance has saved the operations of hundreds of charter schools across the country."
Dr. Thomas Miller
Leaders Building Leaders LLC
"I greatly appreciate Dr Carpenter's keen insight into our governance team and his ability to address the challenges facing us in creating a productive and harmonious working relationship . . . he is a master at boardsmanship! His terrific sense of humor makes the workshop a lot of fun too!"
Clayton Valley Charter High School
"I rely on Dr. Carpenter as the primary advisor and trainer for the school boards affiliated with our charter initiative. The information and guidance he provides brings a focus and clarity to the work of these citizen volunteers so they may effectively govern the schools under their care. Because Dr. Carpenter’s training is of such high quality, these boards return to their schools poised to carry out their duties successfully with newfound knowledge and confidence."
Phillip W. Kilgore
Director, Barney Charter School Initiative
"Governance training from Dr. Carpenter completely changed our School Board’s focus from the minutiae of administrative tasks to the important governance work required to build a successful program. We have him back regularly to update our Board members with the latest governance strategies and lessons learned from his extensive experience with charter schools in the US."
J. Kathleen Zimmerman
NYOS Charter School
"Dr. Carpenter is widely regarded by the premier state charter authorizers and our national association as the platinum standard on Board and Governance matters."
Director, Business Development
SABIS Educational Systems, Inc.
“Dr. Brian Carpenter once again provided [NMU authorized schools] an insightful, interesting, and intensive board governance workshop. His real life examples and down to earth approach engage and capture his audience for the duration of the session.”
Charter Schools Officer
Northern Michigan University
“The training session at PCHS was exceptionally informative and kept the Board's interest throughout. It has changed our thinking quite a bit. Thanks to Dr. Brian Carpenter, who was so helpful and enjoyable, we now have a better vision of what a Board should be.”
Palisades Charter High School
“Brian's work with our board has helped to make this a great school year!"
Robert E. Bohnstengel
Principal, James Island Charter High, Charleston, SC
“Brian Carpenter’s all-day training session at our Board of Director’s seminar was just great in both content and style. His warm, energetic presentation style coupled with thoughtful and thought provoking content facilitated both community-building and thorough understanding of the board’s role in governance (not micro-management) and strategic planning. Event evaluations were filled with positive feedback and glowing accolades for Brian. Personable, knowledgeable, attentive, organized and a solid professional.”
Jane Dye, Principal
Belle Chasse Academy, New Orleans, LA
“Thank you for your wonderful time you spent with us. Your training has been an eye-opener.”
Milestone Academy, New Orleans, LA
“I am writing to you right now to thank you for bringing us in line with true Policy Governance. Even though we still have much to learn, words cannot express to you how much easier this situation is currently because we have good policies in place . . . . We could not be where we are without you, Brian.”
Merit Academy, Springville, UT
“Dr. Carpenter knows the charter school business like no other expert I’ve encountered.”
West Buffalo Charter School, NY
“Brian is a gifted lecturer/presenter with a unique grasp of boards generally but more specifically in the context of charter school.”
West Buffalo Charter School, NY
“Brian Carpenter is, without a doubt, the foremost authority on charter school governance in the country. I have witnessed his work with a wide variety of charter school boards in two states and his reception has always been enthusiastic. And, the lasting impact of his work adds significant value to charter schools’ governing processes.”
Timothy H. Daniels, Ed.D (RIP)
South Carolina Public Charter School District
“I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow from your expertise and cannot wait for others to as well.”
Lake Country Academy
“Thank you for your presentation to Delaware’s charter school board members and directors . . . . Our charter school leaders, as well as our students, will certainly benefit from your extensive experience and expertise in the areas on governance and effective student recruitment.”
Ruth Ann Minner
“[Dr. Carpenter’s] workshop will help us be a more efficient board in regard to our time as well as at oversight.”
“Thank you again for an excellent workshop. You reaffirmed our strengths and helped us to identify our weaknesses in a non-finger-pointing way. Having attended your presentations whenever possible, I was familiar with much of what you presented, but working with you in a small group focused solely on our school gave me so much more understanding. You have a knack for humorously giving shape and form to philosophy.”
Co-Founder and Board Member of Reid Traditional Schools
“Thank you so much for the value that you have created for Reagan Academy's Board of Trustees. When I joined the Board two years ago, what I found was a very well-intended group of individuals with no idea what they were doing (myself included). What has happened since then is awesome. We now have a Board that is functional, confident, and effective. Thank you for sharing you passion, and expertise with us and empowering us to become a properly functioning Board of an exceptional educational institution.”
"The seminar you conducted for ECUEA was very helpful for me and all in attendance. I have attended a number of seminars on governance sponsored by [other trainers]--frankly yours was more meaningful. I liked your use of the Socratic method and fill-in the-blanks!"
East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy
1. My clients seem to appreciate that where boards are concerned, I speak from the experience which I accrued over two decades reporting to, as well as serving on, multiple governing boards.
2. Being a school leader is tough work and involves unique challenges. My clients appreciate that I don’t have to imagine these. Before becoming a consultant in 2005, I had worked for more than ten years as a headmaster in the independent sector. More recently, in the 2015/16 school year, I served as an interim Head of School for a 1,500 student charter school in South Carolina while assisting the board in a successful national search for a permanent leader. I know the work, I know the hours, I know the challenges.
3. My clients have often already used some of my training materials, so they know what they're getting when they engage me. These materials include two “how to” books (with a third in progress), chapters in other authors’ books, conference papers, newspaper and magazine articles, podcasts and training videos.
4. In some high stakes situations (e.g., charter renewal, lawsuits, etc.) my clients have told me that they benefited from my experience at working with attorneys, authorizers and others. In a world of self proclaimed experts, posers don't last long when the stakes are high and my clients know this.
5. My clients want a consultant who is credible. Credibility has many dimensions but It seems to me, for example, that if a consultant urges his client schools to produce lifelong learners, he himself should be one. I strive to do what I teach. Besides a PhD in Education (2008), I returned to school full time in the summer of 2017 and completed a 12-credit hour graduate certificate in forensic accounting and fraud examination (FAFE) at West Virginia University. I subsequently passed the national exam to become a certified fraud examiner (CFE). I have also been trained by Dr. John and Miriam Carver in the theory and implementation of Policy Governance.
6. No one wants to do boring training. Many of my clients come to me as a result of having seen me speak at one or more of the 50 state and national charter school conferences at which I've presented over the years. They know I enjoy laughing as well as making others laugh so they know that a retreat with me will be just as fun.