LCS Denies Charter School Application in 3-2 Vote

LCS Denies Charter School Application in 3-2 Vote

During the April 27th Leon County School Board (LCSB) meeting, Superintendent Rocky Hanna added an item to the agenda related to the review of the Red Hills Academy Charter School Application. 

After extensive deliberation, the Board voted against the review team recommendation for approval and sided with Superintendent Hanna’s recommendation to deny the application.

The vote was 3-2. LCSB members Alva Striplin, Daryl Jones & Rosanne Wood voted for denial and members Joy Bowen and Dee Dee Rasmussen voted to accept the application.

School Board member Dee Dee Rasmussen, who supported the application, contended the application had been in the Board’s possession since February 1st and the first time it had been presented to the Board was April 26, 2021. The timing only allowed for a 24-hour period for the Board to decide the fate of the application and provided no time to discus any possible changes with the applicant. Rasmussen argued that the Board should have considered the application a month ago.

The School

The Red Hills Academy Charter School is a not-for-profit corporation, created to serve grades K-5. The proposed location of the charter school is 3551 Austin Davis Boulevard, near Mahan Dr. and Capital Circle N.E.

The Red Hills Board members plan to offer a small school atmosphere with only three classrooms in each grade level, with less than 200 students during the first year. Their plan is to allow for a more intimate setting for students and teachers to engage in a more frequent one-on-one instruction and learning.

A primary focus of the school and faculty is a second language course of study, to prepare the students for communicating in a second language and discovering and understanding other cultures.

Red Hills projected student body is expected to include “approximately 64% Minority Students, approximately 44% Eligible for Free and Reduced-Price Lunch (FRL) Program, approximately 2.8% English Language Learners (ELLs), and approximately 17% Exceptional Student Education (ESEs). These numbers are based on a student population within 3.5 miles of the school’s location.

The Decision

On February 1, 2021, the Board received the application by the Red Hills Academy Charter School. The Board had 90 days to review the application and discus any issues.

According to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Michelle Gayle, the application was distributed to the review team members by February 5, 2021. The team reviewed the laws/statutes for charter schools using the Florida Charter School Application Evaluation Instrument and were responsible for evaluating the application in its entirety.

The review team held two meetings to discuss the application on March 5 and March 11, 2021. On March 24, 2021, a final meeting was held, where the Red Hills Academy board members were also present. The committee members had formulated over 100 questions and concluded the final meeting with an approval recommendation with conditions. Out of the 19 members, 11 voted for approval of the charter school and eight voted to deny the application.

According to the Board members on Tuesday night, there was an extensive conversation during the Monday night School Board Agenda Review meeting, where many concerns about Red Hills were discussed.

Rosanne Wood, a School Board member, pointed out her concerns about the school’s inadequate budget, the length of the student waiting list, and if the school will be able to meet the requirement for a 64% minority student body population. Furthermore, Wood noted the school is unable to provide transportation, thus limiting access to potential students.    

Board member Dee Dee Rasmussen disagreed with denying the application. She felt strongly that if it is denied and the application is appealed the Board will look “ridiculous, with the underlying record upon which it looks like we didn’t do our job.” 

10 Responses to "LCS Denies Charter School Application in 3-2 Vote"

  1. Roseanne Wood was Principal of SAIL High School for years. You would think she would understand the importance of smaller and alternative schools for Leon County.

  2. All in favor of not allowing a potential competitor to further embarrass us by outperforming us in every metric at a lower cost say “aye.”

  3. Charter Schools are competition for the public education dollars that are funded in large part by your property tax dollars. I have NEVER seen an elected democrat that did not oppose Charter or Private schools, because when there’s competition for your childs education, Charter or Private schools win every time…if for no other reason, to stop the indoctrination of their children.

  4. 1. Ms. Wood–you should be ashamed of yourself. A concern with waiting lists? Remember your stewardship of SAIL? Talk about waiting lists and transportation issues. Both were awful but the education was worth it. And a 64% “minority” enrollment requirement? So what if there isn’t as long as they have the opportunity to enroll? The fact that it doesn’t achieve that level makes no difference. Let parents who want to rescue their children from the Rocky Hell Hole do so. Just like many parents, including me, did.
    2. Mr. Hanna–You just never seem to go away. Unfortunately. But at least you are consistent. Consistently on the wrong side of the issues. You may want to consider another line of work as you seem not to know what it means to serve the public interest.
    3. Ms. Rasmussen–Thank you for your clear-headedness. I wish it were contagious.

  5. Rasmussen is absolutely correct. The School Board WILL look “ridiculous, with the underlying record upon which it looks like we didn’t do our job.” It should have put this on the agenda for the March meeting, for the very reasons she cited.

    Either Hanna used the process to prevent the applicant from providing more information and to assure an uninformed commission, and to avert an interactive process with elected officials that might have resulted in an approved application, or he and his staff are incompetent.

    Make no mistake, many School Boards view Charter Schools as an existential threat to the future of public schools. Many are also very leery of Home Education, but they do not have power to approve or deny Home Education like they do with Charter Schools.

  6. “Welcome to the Leon County Public Indoctrination System… Where Corruption, Dysfunction, and Malfeasance has replaced Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic”

  7. I see 2 things that are mentioned in the article but need to be reinforced for the public as they may not fully understand what appears to be malfeasance on the part of the board if just doing a scan or speed read of the article.
    1. The board intentionally moth balled the application received Feb 1, 2021 for 3 months time until the last possable day in order to ramrod their no vote through on the last possable meeting in order to prevent the applicant from making any changes to comply with the boards objections.
    2. Surely it appearsRocky pressured the three no voters inappropriately in some fashion to vote Rocky’s way. And Rocky is basking in the thrill of victory now despite inappropriately and maybe illegally manipulating the system to quash the charter schools application which was submitted in good faith.
    Wonder if the people behind Red Hills Academy are going to fight this injustice or meekly and mildly bend to Rocky’s will and quietly walk away.

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