Hillsborough School leaders explore next step after charter schools refuse
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla .– Hillsborough County school leaders were briefed on next steps at a meeting on Tuesday after they chose not to renew the contracts of four charter schools in the Tampa Bay area and limit the two more charters earlier this month. Principals also released their response to a letter from the Florida Education Commissioner.
The four schools include Kid’s Community College Charter High School, Pivot Charter School, SouthShore Charter Academy, and Woodmont Charter School.
The council’s non-renewal decisions prompted state education commissioner Richard Corcoran to send a letter to the council last week.
In his letter, addressed to school board and board chair Lynn Gray, Corcoran explained with the decision not to renew these charters, the board may have violated state law, and he threatened to withhold some funding as a result. .
The education commissioner said the district failed to give the required 90-day notice to charters if they were not going to renew them, according to state law.
Corcoran also indicated that none of the schools refused were below a C rating and that many students come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Corcoran gave the council until Tuesday to respond to his letter.
“During the 90 day period that we send the letter saying that we are planning or intending to close, [the schools] will remain open. During any call, they will remain open. If we ultimately win, we will of course work with the charter to make sure students and staff are not displaced overnight, ”Hillsborough County School Board attorney Jim Porter said during of Tuesday’s meeting.
ABC Action News received the letter to the Commissioner in response. He said the district historically presented potential renewals to the board in May or June to avoid disruption to schools, students, families and staff. The letter also explained the reasons for the board of directors to comply with the charter agreement and state law.
School board members cited at their mid-June board meeting, as well as in letters to the four charter schools, reasons for not renewing, including financial issues and problematic school records.
“With all of that, and the extra money, and getting a private PPP loan, these charters still don’t work as well as public schools,” said Nadia Combs, a school board member. “So why do we continue to support them and do a better job of educating taxpayers?”
Another school board member Dr Stacy Hahn also spoke of problems reported at two of the charter schools when it comes to caring for children with special needs.
“As a specialist teacher and working with specialist teachers, violating a student’s civil rights, not implementing an education plan, it concerns me a lot,” Hahn said.
Hillsborough County schools also lose millions of dollars each year when children leave the district to attend charter schools.
Superintendent Addison Davis said the district needs to work to keep children in the district by providing the best customer service, improving marketing and community outreach.
Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting and during public commentary, parents and students argued for the choice of school and asked the board to reconsider.
“All parents have the right to choose which school their children attend and it should never be decided by anyone else,” said Sarah Soich, parent of a charter school. “Charter schools are great schools with great people. We love it. That’s part of what keeps us in this community, it’s our school. “
Board chair Lynn Gray shared her response to parents’ requests to reconsider their decision.
“I don’t think any of us disagree with the choice of school, neither of us, because we all know that this is the way our parents want to have their children in the school setting. ‘they wish,’ Gray said. “This is the real quality, the learning environment that we put our children, my grandchildren in. Is it the best we can have, or is it similar, or is it less?”
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