Florida legislature strips local control away from school boards

From Scathing Purple Musings

by Bob Sykes

Two charter school operators are trying out the new Florida law which allows them to go over the head of school districts when they are turned down. Writes Dave Weber in the Orlando Sentinel:

Two groups that want to open charter schools in Seminole County have appealed the School Board’s decision to reject their applications.

Both Renaissance Charter School and Central Florida Virtual Charter School are unwilling to accept the School Board’s decision, according to the Florida Department of Education.

We don’t have details on how the appeal to the state will proceed. But based on past instances in other counties, the School Board is likely to have to defend its rejection of the applications before charter-friendly state officials, more than the charter -seekers will have to prove that they are worthy.

Seminole turned down both Renaissance and Central Florida Virtual in September, citing deficiencies in their applications.

Board members criticized Renaissance for setting academic goals for students that were below what traditional Seminole schools achieve.

And they said Central Florida Virtual had unrealistic expectations for enrollment. The online school planned on 500 kindergarten through ninth grade students its first year, while the district’s existing virtual school already available to students has enrolled only 86 this year.

Renaissance, a group out of Southwest Florida manged by the rapidly expanding Charter Schools USA firm, also is appealing charter rejections by school boards in Polk and St. Lucie counties.

The Florida School Board Association is lobbying for repeal of the provision which allows for this. If Duval’s KIPP schools had been turned down, they signaled that would have done similarly.

Do republicans really want this? They’ve effectively ended local control of schools with the measure. How much did the two charter operators on Rick Scott’s education transition team have to do with this bad idea in the first place? It is such manipulations which favor cronyism that drives the Florida Tea Party Networks advocacy for ethics reform. Timing couldn’t be worse for Rick Scott and state republicans.


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