IDEA Public Schools board replaces CEO

3 years 10 months 1 week ago Friday, April 17 2020 Apr 17, 2020 April 17, 2020 10:54 PM April 17, 2020 in News - Local

The IDEA Public Schools board on Friday night replaced founder and CEO Tom Torkelson, who launched the sprawling charter school network two decades ago.

Members of the board approved a CEO transition agreement at about 10:20 p.m. Friday. After they approved the agreement, members of the board selected co-founder and Superintendent JoAnn Gama to replace Torkelson.

Torkelson and Gama, who moved to the Rio Grande Valley as part of the Teach for America program, founded IDEA Public Schools in August 2000 with just 150 students, according to the IDEA website. During the next two decades, IDEA opened campuses across Texas and became a national model for charter schools.

Last year, however, Torkelson and IDEA were criticized for plans to lease a private jet and spending on San Antonio Spurs tickets.

Torkelson apologized for the decisions in a letter to the IDEA community, saying: "a number of decisions I’ve made as CEO were really dumb and unhelpful."

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