In a news brief from the Capitol News Service, the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission lost its right to approve charter schools in a decision by the Florida Supreme Court. This right will go back to the local school boards, who argued that it was unconstitutional for the state to decide whether or not a charter school is admitted to a local district.
According to the news brief: "When you simply set the school board aside and run over it like this commission had the potential to do, you offend the constitution and that’s what the First District Court of Appeals said." This statement came from Ron Meyer, an attorney who has been fighting hard for the rights of local school boards.
There will most likely be an appeal by the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission at a later time, but for now local school boards will have the final say in which charter schools they’ll allow and which they’ll reject.
This is a major victory for the local school boards, who’ve been out of the decision-making process for charter school admission since the Commission was established in 2006.
Since that time, they have played judge and jury for any charter school’s request for admission into any Florida school district. Only one school received approval from the commission, even though 54 submitted applications.
But, they may not be dead yet. According to the Orlando Sentinel, "Commission officials told the State Board of Education this morning that if they are allowed to remain in existence…they could see a new, more specific role for their panel. Rather than simply reviewing charter school applications from around they state, they could help create specialized schools that fill needed roles."
So, they won’t go without a fight. It’s interesting to note that the curricula the commission is proposing for its "specialized" schools – as part of its new, more specific role – may be very similar to some of the charter schools whose applications they’ve rejected over the past two years.
This is not the first time municipalities have battled state organizations regarding charter schools. Ten years ago, the city of Milwaukee did battle with the state of Wisconsin over its charter schools.
And, in 2004, Missouri’s state board of education sought greater oversight of that state’s charter schools when it was found several had ill-qualified teachers.
In 2007, Maricopa county school officials took Arizona’s Board of Education to court so they could have greater control over the subject matter being taught in their charter schools.
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