Charter School Parents Pull Trigger Then Get Sued By Charter School Management Corporation


Only in the twisted world of for-profit charter schools and their political handmaidens is this possible. From Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Gabrielle Russon:

Principal Justin Matthews eagerly awaits Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony as he looks to further expand the biggest charter school in Sarasota County.

A day later, a court hearing is scheduled as Matthews’ former bosses seek to push him from power, accusing him of a coup d’etat at the North Port school.

It is the latest part of a pitched battle pitting Matthews and the school’s governing board against Imagine Schools, until days ago the charter’s undisputed parent. The local governing board voted Feb. 15 to secede, accusing Arlington, Va.-based Imagine Schools of siphoning public tax dollars for its management fees and stunting the local school’s growth.

The school, now independent, has been rechristened Sarasota Preparatory School.

Imagine Schools quickly sued Matthews and the board for more than $15,000, alleging both defamation and contract violation. The nonprofit also filed a motion for an emergency injunction that is scheduled to be considered Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. by Sarasota County Circuit Court Judge Charles Williams.

“We’re doing what they should have if you have a dispute,” said Shawn Arnold, a Jacksonville lawyer representing Imagine Schools, the largest commercial manager of charter schools in the United States.

“In this instance, we’ve gone to the court and asked for relief. We will wait for the court to speak before we take any action.”

Matthews calls the nonprofit’s lawsuit “frivolous,” and scores of parents are backing him and the board.

“I have never seen a principal as involved as Justin is,” said Imagine mother Tracy Roelle, who has a first- and fourth-grader at the school. “He’s just a really solid role model for our kids.”

Since Thursday, more than 100 parents have signed a petition voicing support for Matthews and the local board, and parents expect to present it to the court, Roelle said.

“This is not in the best interest of our kids to continue with Imagine when the money can be used to better serve students,” said Roelle, a volunteer treasurer with the parent-teacher organization. “Mostly, I hear support. I really do.”

There have been a few “naysayers,” Roelle said.

“They were honest with us. They had no idea what’s going on” and declined to sign the petition after being caught in the email crossfire between Matthews and Imagine Schools.

Senator Stargell, Representative Bileca, phone your office.

Sen. Kelli Stargell (R-Lakeland) and Rep. Michael Bileca (R-Miami), sponsors of this year’s parent trigger bills in the Florida legislature,  should be asked whether or not they approve of charter school parents gathering signatures and choosing their own option. No such language exists in their identical bills.  Both legislators have taken campaign contributions from for-profit charter schools who would benefit from parent trigger. What if parents of a charter school want out – especially if they have replaced a public school or have taken over a school district’s building as would happen with Bileca’s charter school land grab bill?

Perhaps Stargell and Bileca are such shameless privatization zealots that such blatant hypocrisy doesn’t matter. If their motivations were purely about parental choice, they’d amend their bills to protect parents like these. What chance is there of that happening?  The only thing more laughable would be if a signature dispute unfolds in Sarasota as this reflects the part of the two parent trigger bills authored by signature swindler Parent Revolution.

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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3 Responses to Charter School Parents Pull Trigger Then Get Sued By Charter School Management Corporation

  1. Jon Awbrey says:

    Things that ALEC and the NRA never told you —

    • You can’t unpull a trigger …

  2. tom james says:

    Stargel and bileca are typical r special interest whores with their noses in the trough.

  3. I have and many other parents and teachers have been threatened by the Gulen Charter School operators. They deny all connection with CULT LEADER Fethullah Gulen They do launder money out of the ountry back to the Turkey. They have been seen falsifying test scores to improve their rankings and of course to get more of your tax dollars. I recommend anyone who reads this to research and then take take action to closing and to stopping the spread of these cult owned charter schools. When a speacial interest group who uses your tax dollars to lobby our politicians for business and personal gain there is a danger and a threat. That money is not benifieting your kids in the least bit.

    Also be it known the Caryle Group is now getting into charter education. They are closing down public schools all over the country so that a selct of prive coroprate owned schools will control everything and only select few will become wealthy with your tax dollars by giving little or nothing back to education. The dumming down of society is in progress. How does it dfeel to know that as a parent you will have no rights when you send your children to these schools and if you speak up or speak out you will be sued ? Something about 1st Amendment protects that right? Not if you are dealing with a charter school or a large corporation who has a team of lawyers in their side.

    Before considering any school be sure to reasearch it and do your investigations. Your childs future and safety depends on it.

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