Academica, the largest charter chain in Florida, won approval to open the state’s largest charter school in Miami-Dade, with 3,000 “student stations.”

The firm operates for-profit.

A month ago, the Miami Herald reported that the chain was under federal investigation for its business practices.

A report yesterday by the Florida League of Women Voters pointed out that Academica has key connections in the Legislature:

 Senator Anitere Flores of Miami is president of an Academica managed charter school in Doral.

 Florida Representative Erik Fresen is Chair of the House Education subcommittee on appropriations. Representative Fresen’s sister is the Vice President of Academica and is married to the president. http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida- politics/content/ethics-commission-clears-miami-rep-erik-fresen-alleged-voting-conflict.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/14/2545708_p2/company-cultivates-links-to-lawmakers.html

 George Levesque, Florida House lawyer cleared Erik Fresen of conflict of interest
concerns over charter schools. He is the husband of Patricia Levesque, former Jeb Bush Deputy Chief of Staff and currently Executive Director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education which promotes school choice. http://www.truthabouteducation.org/1/archives/01-2010/1.html.

 Representative Manny Diaz is Dean of Doral Academy, an Academica managed school. He is the leader for the new statewide contract bill in the Florida House. Doral College was cited by the Florida Auditor General for a $400,000 loan from Doral Charter High School. Conflict of Interest and procurement for Charters with federal grants:

Click to access conflictinterest_att.pdf