There’s more trouble for Dennis Bakke, the CEO of Imagine Schools. Missouri’s Commissioner of Education told Imagine’s state sponsor that the low performing and financially strapped schools should close. In response to a letter from Missouri Baptist University, Chris Nicastro wrote:
“We do not view it as the intent of the Missouri General Assembly that the department engage in intrusive regulatory oversight of charter schools, or to perform the administrative responsibilities of the sponsor. However, it appears from your public statement that MBU desires our recommendations in this matter. Let me be specific:
“1) Announce immediately that the Imagine charter schools will close at the end of the current school year.
“2) Work closely with the St. Louis Public Schools and other charter schools to ensure the smooth transition of students from Imagine to other public schools.
“The Department has provided as much technical assistance as current statutes and our current resources allow. Should you need additional assistance, please contact my office.”
Bakke was on Florida Governor Rick Scott’s education transition team and he also operates three failing charters in Florida. Nicastro seems to express frustration that her office doesn’t have more oversight. Similar circumstances and legislation exist in Florida.
But is it conceivable that Florida’s education commissioner, Gerard Robinson take the same kind of action against Bakke and his Imagine school here?
Charters have powerful, well-connected lobbying groups. Its former top lobbyist is in charge of the state agency that oversees them. Furthermore, there are several legislators whom have a financial interests in charter school success. Robinson’s boss has based much of his education policy on charter schools.
Could it be that charter school crony capitalism is what finally gives Florida an ethics reform bill?