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.
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.