Miami-Dade Schools to Close Two Charter Schools – Including One Which Held Late Night Adult Parties

The executive director of the Florida DOE agency which oversees state charter schools bemoans the fact that only the bad charter schools get publicity.  Michael Kooi, who was charter schools chief lobbyist before being hired by Rick Scott to oversee them, told the Tallahassee Democrat “it’s frustrating that the bad ones get the press.”

Well, the Miami-Dade School board voted unanimously to close two more of those bad ones Kooi is talking about. From the Miami Herald:

Miami-Dade School Board unanimously voted to close a charter school accused of holding raunchy late-night parties in its cafeteria.

The school, the Balere Language Academy in South Miami Heights, has the option to appeal to the state Board of Education. The school’s attorney, Marlon Hill, said they had not decided whether to appeal the decision to the state Board of Education.

Besides closure by the district, the school has other woes: a foreclosure lawsuit and more than $229,000 in outstanding debts, as previously reported by the Miami Herald.

The School Board also decided against renewing a contract with another charter school, Lawrence Academy Elementary, in Florida City. The school has received consecutive F-grades from the state and can be closed under state law.

Both votes passed unanimously without discussion as Balere’s attorney, school officials and dozens of students, out of school during a high-stakes testing period, sat in the auditorium. After the vote, the parents and students from Balere filed out. Hill said they had wanted to speak to board members but were not able to at the time of the vote because it passed on a procedural motion — not a stand-alone vote with public discussion. “It’s unfortunate the School Board didn’t find the compassion to hear their piece,” Hill said.

School district officials have said Balere failed to provide mandatory special education services and programs for children learning English. The school raised its state-issued grade from F to A last year.

Meanwhile, controversial Palm Beach charter Mavericks is facing a lawsuit from a former teacher who said she was instructed to falsify grades. And on Monday, an appeals court upheld the conviction of a Pensacola charter school operator who misused $750,000 in state education funds.

Because of the forced assumption that “choice” somehow is pure, Floridians must witness their tax dollars to be thrown away so whimsically. Sadly, a dollar amount cannot be put on the human cost to a child and their family when they commit to a charter school which turns out to not be operating above-board. Miami-Dade’s professional educators and its elected school board members will be the ones who provide comfort and solutions for the families, while those charter schools quietly look to appeal their closure to sympathetic political appointees in Tallahassee. Somehow charter schools powerful and wealthy backers never have to personally face these families and let local districts clean up the disasters their insistences have fostered. 


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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