In Broward County, Florida, several new proposals for charter schools have been submitted by charter operators who previously closed down their schools. Despite their previous failure, the local board is likely to grant them a new charter because the board is not allowed to consider past performance. How crazy is that?
The story in the Sun-Sentinel by Karen Yi and Amy Shipley says:
“At least seven groups of applicants with ties to failed or floundering charter schools are seeking second chances and public money to open 18 more.
“Odds are, most will prevail.”
“School districts say that they can’t deny applicants solely because of past problems running charter schools. State laws tell them to evaluate what they see on paper — academic plans, budget proposals, student services — not previous school collapses or controversial professional histories.”
“District officials are currently reviewing applications for next year.
“Among those vying to open new charter schools, which are privately operated but publicly funded:
• A group that managed three new charter schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties that opened this year — and then shut down on the first day of school.
• The founder of two charter schools that failed in 2007 amid accusations of stolen money, shoddy record keeping and parent complaints, according to state and local records. A state investigation later chastised school directors for “virtually nonexistent” oversight, though prosecutors filed no criminal charges.
• An educator who was banned from New Jersey public schools, then consulted for two schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties that shuttered in 2013. The Palm Beach County school district closed one of the schools because of poor academics and financial difficulties; the Broward school chose to cease operations amid dwindling enrollment, according to school district reports.
“The Sun Sentinel also found three applications from leaders at two charter schools that were ordered to close this year for poor academics. Another three proposals came from a director at an existing charter school chided for its deteriorating financial condition. An entrepreneur who has consulted for a handful of failed schools is also listed on an application.
The authors previously published an exposé of the lack of oversight of charter schools in southern Florida.
Their stories raise important questions:
Does any elected official in the state of Florida care about responsible oversight of education?
Does any elected official in the state of Florida care about responsible oversight of taxpayer dollars?
If Florida’s elected officials want to improve educational opportunities, do they really believe that children are better served by allowing schools to be opened without regard to the past performance of those in charge?