In yesterday’s surprising Senate rebuke of the House on in its rewrite of standard charter school contract legislation, a new narrative may have emerged. Arek Sarkissian writes in the Florida Current:
Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, filed an amendment to SB 1528 that would place any dispute between a charter school and a school district before a judge with the state Department of Administrative Hearings, and it specifies a charter can only dismiss a student in the manner specified in the school’s code of conduct. The initial bill, filed by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, would have drastically changed a charter school’s application with the district, allowed shuttered school district property to be used by charter schools and authorized a high-performing out-of-state charter school to also qualify in Florida.
Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, was one of the seven who voted in favor of the amended bill, but said he had plans to file another amendment that would leave current law largely untouched. Montford said that the Legislature should not govern the way a school board negotiates contracts.
“That’s a constitutional body made up of people who were elected to make these decisions,” Montford said. “We have no business making these changes.”
Montford had filed an amendment to Bradley’s bill that would have relegated its weight from a standard charter contract to a model, but it was withdrawn.
“You’ll definitely see it back,” Montford said.
The goal of Florida’s big charter schools to get a standard contract is over for this session. The Senate applied some real fairness to the charter school application process by putting an administrative law judge between charter schools and their allies on the state board of education where they’ve always gotten what they’ve wanted.
Montford’s reminder to colleagues that school boards are “a constitutional body made up of people who were elected to make these decisions,” is a long overdue scolding of republican lawmakers who have been passing legislation intended to usurp local school board control. Big charter schools can’t be bothered with donating campaign cash to a bunch of insignificant school board members, after all, when they can give state lawmakers cash to force theme out of the picture.