Unacceptable Bias From BOE Chair Kathleen Shanahan in Favor of Charter Schools


The Florida Current has a follow-up article on the decision of the Florida Board of Education to overrule local school boards on five charter school applications. Current reporter Gray Rohrer, spoke with Chair Kathleen Shanahan, who wasn’t afraid of demonstrating her clear favoritism for charter schools.

The state Board of Education on Wednesday took the unprecedented step of approving two charter schools despite ongoing challenges from their counties’ school boards, which had originally refused to approve the charter schools.

 The school boards for Duval and Seminole counties also have challenged earlier decisions by the state Board of Education to uphold the appeals of the Northeast Florida Virtual Charter School and the Central Florida Virtual Charter School. The courts enacted an automatic stay, preventing the charter school companies from starting up their virtual schools.

 Board members meeting in Tampa voted 4-2 to approve a motion to vacate the stay — a first-time move for the state board. Officials from both local school boards said they will appeal the decision to the court system.

 Chair Kathleen Shanahan voted in favor of vacating the stay, but not before scolding unnamed legislators she says called her before Wednesday’s meeting to advocate for the virtual schools.

“It’s not like they need to work us to get us to be for (school) choice,” Shanahan said.

 She also criticized lawmakers for not fixing the appeals process, saying it allows local school boards to run charter and virtual school applicants through the rigors of the courts for years.

 “We are dealing with a prohibitive process while everybody else is pushing charter schools, the charter-digital schools, virtual schools,” Shanahan said.

I wonder who those legislators were. Were they among those who have accepted campaign money from Charter USA or Academica? Both benefit from the current system which allows for hand-picked political appointees like Shanahan to overrule elected school board members in Orange and Seminole counties.

Shanahan might like to have her candor back. She admitted her bias for charter school and bemoaned the fact she’s not able to do more. Such bias is unacceptable and her ability to act in an even-handed manner has been compromised. Shanahan should step down.

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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