Red Hills Academy filed an appeal on June 4th, 2021 with the Florida Department of Education seeking to have their charter school application denial overturned.
The Leon County School Board (LCSB) voted, 3-2, to deny the charter school’s application during the April 27th Board meeting.
A successful appeal will give Red Hills Academy (RHA) the opportunity to open their doors for the fall 2022 school year.
In the appeal, the RHA contends the “reasons for denial advanced by the Superintendent through the School Board do not constitute competent substantial evidence of good cause to support the denial” of the application.
The RHA also argues the LCSB continues to use “sandbagging practices” to block charter school applications.
According to the appeal document, the RHA gave notice to the LCSB on November 13, 2020, of their intent to seek a charter school grant. However, the Charter Application Review Committee (CARC) did not receive any training on their responsibilities until February 2021.
Also, inconsistent with the procedures set by section 1002.33(6)(b), Florida Statutes, the RHA never received any written questions or concerns from the CARC prior to their interview on March 24th, though the committee had compiled a substantial list and ultimately approved the application.
Because the RHA application was added on at the last minute for the April 26, 2021 LCSB workshop, there were no representatives of RHA or the CARC present. The Superintendent only had Dr. Jeff McCullers present, an outside evaluator who voted against the application approval. The short notice of the application review only gave members of the LCSB 24 hours to consider the application before they voted. `
LCSB members -who voted against the application – argued that several of the five already existing charter schools in Tallahassee are operating under capacity, some below 50%. Vice-Chair Darryl Jones stated that he “couldn’t make an investment of both time and resources to take away from our public schools.”
Charter Schools are funded through the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP).
The RHA appeal refutes several objections by the LCSB which included concerns that the application did not define policies and procedures, does not provide budgetary projections, and does it demonstrate a reasonable transportation plan that serves all eligible students.
The RHA stated that “throughout its Notice of Denial, the LCSB relies on red herring arguments, errant readings of the Application, and unsubstantiated rationales which ignore the substantive merits of RHA’s application and the recommendations of its own staff review.”