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Charter School's Freebie Offers -- Dinners, Other Giveaways -- Draws Criticism

(CBS) -- Free chicken dinners. A chance to win a trip a water park. Giveaway offers for kids.

Sounds like a marketing campaign for a retailer, but it's the latest strategy a West Side charter school is using to enroll students.

CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker reports not everyone is happy with the campaign.

Wanda Taylor scrolls through the offers that Mount Everest Charter School has posted on its Facebook page and on Twitter: a dinner for two to those who refer their kindergarten or first-grade student to the new school, which is being built in Austin.

Administrators are looking to attract the attention of parents, or grandparents like Taylor.

"It's insulting to those of us who are out there trying to help parents find programming that will fit their students," she says.

The school's executive director tells CBS 2 that parents are choosing the school based on its academics. He added: "The school uses a variety of ways to raise awareness," including social media.

Taylor says she worries some parents won't take the time to do academic homework to see what rival schools, Spencer and Leland elementary, have to offer.

State-approved charters get about $3,000 for every student enrolled. Chicago Public Schools officials don't seem to like the idea of offering freebies.

The Chicago Board of Education says, "We encourage students and families to prioritize academics when selecting a school, and we discourage schools from employing these types of incentives to increase enrollment."

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