Charter board members are supposed to be watch dogs for the public interest. It does not always happen. Children can be hurt, so can adults.
Senator John Legg, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, is coping with a serious offense by an administrator at his charter school, Dayspring Academy in Pasco. Senator Legg’s wife is the principal. A staff member who has been at the school for several years was arrested this week for having sex with two boys, one 14 and the other 18.
Mckeel Academy’s board in Lakeland investigated allegations that its principal assaulted a staff member and coerced staff to contribute to Senator Kelli Stargel’s 2013 campaign fund. Both Representative Stargel, and her husband, Judge Stargel, have served on the advisory board since it opened. Florida Representative Seth Mckeel is chair of the board.
Learning Expressions charter school in Gainesville has no known association with the Florida legislature, but it shares problems with its management and board independence. This week a teacher was charged with child abuse for hitting a student and throwing a chair in the classroom. It turns out that the teacher is the principal’s husband and the vice principal is her daughter. Two of the board members, husband and wife, are owners of another area charter school.
A well run system has checks and balances. Many family run businesses do not.
Senator Legg’s charter school bill currently in the Florida legislature, SB1448, has a provision to require charter advisory boards be independent of their management. Let’s hope that the provision makes it into law. If it does, local districts should be required to review the implementation of the law. Laws need teeth.