Local Control of Charter Schools is Over in Florida


After a February decision to overrule local school boards on charter school rejections, Florida State Board of Eduction Member Kathleen Shannon said that she “hoped” people were getting the impression that the Board was showing favoritism for charter school. And chance of that ended yesterday when Shannon’s Board overruled five districts in their rejection of charter schools. From Dave Weber in the Orlando Sentinel:

The Florida State Board of Education on Wednesday overruled the decisions of local school boards in deciding that five charter schools rejected by Central Florida districts should be allowed to open.

The decisions were a rebuff for officials in Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Polk and Brevard counties, who had said the charters, proposed to open in the fall, fell short of their standards.

During an appeals hearing in Tampa, the state board also sided with two charters in Broward County that had been rejected by the school board there.

The decisions came during National Charter School Week, when state board members have been visiting charter schools and openly advocating the taxpayer-financed alternatives to traditional public schools.

“We are going to start looking like a rubber stamp for the charter schools,” board member Roberto Martinez said regarding the votes.

The board agreed that the Renaissance Charter out of South Florida should be able to “replicate” in both Seminole and Polk counties. The Legislature last year passed a law permitting successful charters to open schools in other districts unless a district could substantiate a reason to refuse them.

Among other arguments, Seminole held that Renaissance should not be permitted because it set student achievement goals lower than those typically achieved by Seminole schools.

Florida Virtual Academy also got a nod to open in Orange and Volusia counties. In February the state board also approved Florida Virtual for Seminole over the school board’s objection.

Theodore Doran, attorney for Volusia schools, objected to what he characterized as the state board’s open favoritism for charter schools during Wednesday’s meeting, while they were sitting as an “unbiased” appeals body.

“It is clear in the record that many of you clearly have expressed your advocacy for charter schools,” Doran said.

The state board also approved Odyssey Charter in Brevard, as well as Sunshine Charter Academy and another school for Florida Virtual Academy in Broward.

Meanwhile, Board members are on a state-funded tour to celebrate charter schools.

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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One Response to Local Control of Charter Schools is Over in Florida

  1. Jupiter Mom says:

    There is something strangely amiss in Palm Beach County. LaMesa Charter was approved by the PB school board despite the recommendation from their staff to turn it down. The staff was concerned that the school could not meet financial obligations. The board approved it anyway- based on what? I have no idea. And now they are closing the school. Why? Because they owe over $100K to the taxpayers and will not pay it back.

    So, did the state tell this board to approve anyway? What is the liability of the board to the taxpayers to have a reason to approve despite evidence of competence by the school in question? Will the state compensate families whose children are victimized by charters who do not provide the education promised? Where is the accountability here? If taxpayers are going to spend the extra money that charters require, what kind of protective measures are in place to only approve schools that will do what they promise?

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