Why doesn’t the Florida Department of Education uncover abuses in private schools accepting tax credit private schools? Basically, there is no local oversight of the nearly 2,000 private schools. The Orlando Sentinel reporters uncovered three area private schools who violated regulations preventing hiring convicted felons. These cases should make any parent wary. See the article here.
HB 7069 took PECO facility funding away from charters with two school grades below a ‘C’ in a row. Their argument? School grades are not a measure of quality! Districts have made a similar argument regarding the requirement to turn over low performing schools to charters.
An administrative judge upheld the facility funding regulation last year, and on June 5th, the appeal will be heard before a panel of three judges. There are some other concerns as well. Chief among them is the argument that the regulation should not count grades earned before the law was enacted. A lot of public money is at stake, and the DOE is scrambling to amend its regulation.
Here’s the latest story:
Charter school appeal of construction money rules set for June hearing
By Daniel Ducassi
04/23/2018 05:05 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE — A state appellate court on Monday set a June hearing date for an appeal challenging the state’s rules for determining whether charter schools are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in public construction funding.
Lawyers for Aspira Raul Arnaldo Martinez Charter School, Miami Community Charter Middle School and the Florida Association of Independent Charter Schools originally brought an administrative legal challenge to the Florida Department of Education’s changes to the eligibility rules soon after they were adopted in March 2017.
An administrative law judge last year upheld the validity of the rule, leading the charter schools to appeal.
Now the schools will get to make their case the morning of June 5 in front of a panel of three appellate judges: T. Kent Wetherell II, Lori S. Rowe and Thomas D. Winokur.
The crux of the schools’ arguments is that the new rule’s use of school grades to determine eligibility for the first time “changes the statutory definition of ‘satisfactory student achievement’ and bases it solely on the grade of the school.”
They argue that because the “satisfactory student achievement” requirement in the law should be based on individual student performance, rather than the 11 components used to determine school grades — a process they say is governed largely by the Florida Department of Education.
One of the schools received “D” grades for 2016 and 2017, while the other feared it may also earn consecutive “D” grades when it brought the challenge. Lawyers for the charter school litigants argue that the rule, which makes ineligible schools that have received an “F” grade or two consecutive “D” grades, unfairly excludes them from the funding.
But DOE lawyers argue that school grades are an aggregate measure of student achievement and “schools with consistent poor performance are in danger of closing, and it is logical for the state to restrict the use of taxpayer funds to these schools.” They also note that much of the process for how school grades are determined is laid out in state statute.
The interpretation of the rule that schools with consecutive “D” grades are ineligible is itself the subject of another administrative legal challenge. An unrelated central Florida charter school that DOE determined was ineligible for the construction money argues that a plain reading of the rule indicates education officials should be looking only at school grades going forward, and not counting previous-year performance. A hearing in that case is scheduled for next week by video teleconference in Tampa and Tallahassee.
Meanwhile, state education officials are looking to amend those very rule provisions at subject in both cases. The department is holding a workshop on Thursday about their proposed changes.
To view online:
Some things are just inane. Leon County schools are over enrolled, but the State will not approve a new school. It is all about how space is now counted by the legislature. Should a gym count as a classroom??
What is so disgusting is that the State would allow two new charter schools in the area that the Leon County schools do not want. The reason is clear. Charters syphon off funding and hurt existing schools. Read Roseanne Wood’s op ed here. It is time to stop this. There is not enough money to support private, charter, and public schools. Our constitution says “a unified system of free public schools’. This is anything but unified and for many, not even free.
Do Floridians want one school system that is equitable or several, each with its own rules? In today’s Gainesville Sun, the League asks three critical questions to help parents decide which choice to make for their schools: Who pays?, Who is in control?, and What does it matter? In an expanded system of choice, local voters are asked to pay more than the State to compensate for less funding and cost inefficiency due to expanded choices. Go to a charter and pay more in hidden fees and transportation. Go private and select a cheap school or pay the difference in tuition. Go public and worry the funding may not fix the air conditioning.
The State and private education management companies take control away from locally elected school boards. Parents lose their voices in how choice schools are owned and managed. “Don’t like it, then leave” is the response to complaints.
All of this matters. Schools are becoming more segregated by income and student ability while our nation is becoming more diverse. Student achievement stays flat in our choice system. The reason is clear; students learn better when they learn together. Isolate poor children, and they feel they have no stake in the system. Isolate high income children, they don’t learn the real world skills needed to be successful. The kids in the middle disappear; no one is thinking about them.
Students who learn only in like minded groups will be ill prepared for the diverse world in which they will work. Learning to live together starts in schools. The real choice is whether we value the diverse world in which we live or try to escape it by creating mini school clusters of like minded people. You can read the article here. It comes out under our local president’s name.
The Broward County lawsuit over HB 7069 and Schools of Hope was dismissed by Judge Cooper in the Leon County Court. No written decision is yet available. Judge Cooper, according to the Miami Herald, ruled that districts did not have the constitutional authority to direct facility funding that is locally generated. Thus, charters could share in locally generated funding. In addition, the law allows charter systems to be their own Local Education Agency which makes them independent from local school boards. Schools of Hope which are charter take overs of low performing public schools were ruled to be outside local district control. The bill also includes a state designated standard charter contract that has no locally inserted provisions. Districts cannot amend the contract to designate local needs be observed. Finally, some changes in local district control of federal funds for disadvantaged students remain.
While Judge Cooper seemed sympathetic to the school districts’ case, he said his court did not have jurisdiction to overturn the law passed by the legislature, even if, as a local observer reported, the law was “stupid”. The expectation is that the case will be appealed to a higher court.
For a brief review of the HB 7069 lawsuits see: How many HB 7069 lawsuits are there?.
It looks like there will be two constitutional amendments affecting K12 education. Three previous proposals are grouped into one amendment and another proposal stands alone. Both amendments expand charter schools and lead to greater state control of local schools.
One amendment ties P10 civics education to P 71 the expansion of the authorization of charter schools, and P43 limits of terms of school board members. Schools already require civics education in statute. Expanding the authorization of charter schools beyond school districts is a fight that has been going on in the legislature for several years. This is a local control issue that if successful, would allow a state agency or other designee to authorize charters anywhere. Limiting terms for school board members to eight years would allow more turnover, but it could also lower the level of expertise of boards.
A second amendment P93 would stand on its own on the ballot. This amendment allows innovative or high performing districts to turn themselves into charter districts. They would be exempt from the facility and personnel regulations in the K12 school code that other public schools must follow. The consequences for the creation of charter districts for ‘high performing’ school districts are a mixed blessing. Yes, districts would have flexibility, but issues of funding equity, staffing, and quality of facilities all could become more contentious. Of course there is the irony that most high performing districts are ‘high performing’ because they have more schools whose populations are more affluent. Thus, rural and lower income areas would have more regulation and more expensive facilities etc.
The legislature passed a comprehensive Early Learning Program bill (HB 1091). The Office of Early Learning will administer grants to develop observation based child assessments and program assessments. $6 million have been allocated. Quality improvement strategies and community needs assessments are to be reported by the Early Learning Coalitions.
The bill supports recognizes needs of the most at risk children and provides financial incentives for program improvement.
The two principals resigned as did many teachers. Eagle Arts founder, Gregory Blount is not paying his teacher salaries. He is busy paying money to his own company. This is not the first time this has happened. Word has gotten around about the financial irregularities, and many students have withdrawn. This Palm Beach charter school is down to 425 students, and money is running short. Blount is getting loans from local banks. Teachers are asked to wait for their checks.
Palm Beach has had other charter failures. Wellington charter has a 90 day warning to rectify its financial status. The founder is paying his company from school funds for ‘branding’ software. This self dealing is rampant in Florida.
Florida leads the nation is charter closures. Where is the oversight? Why does the legislature fail to act? Is it because so many in the leadership have their own charters?? Charters are public in name only. They are publically funded but privately managed. The children lose.