The Hillsborough County School Board announced its decision to renew charters for four charter schools after the State of Florida was threatening legal action. The school board initially opted to not renew the charters but reversed its decision this week.
The school board initially decided to not renew the charters based on the claim that the schools were not meeting the needs of special needs students.
Richard Corcoran, Florida’s education commissioner, indicated his frustration by the initial non-renewal, saying that elected officials normally do their jobs. The Florida Department of Education also sent a letter to the school board warning of the potential impact the non-renewal would have on parents, teachers, and thousands of students who attend the four schools.
“We’ve never gotten to this point because normally elected officials follow the law,” Corcoran said. “To be in this junction is unprecedented.”
The state had also threatened Hillsborough with potentially losing $1 billion in government funding, and school board member Jessica Vaughn criticized the state for what she said was “overreach.”
“How often are we going to allow the state to overreach and really decide what we need to do with our district?” Vaughn said.
When the school board voted to renew the charters of all four schools at once, Vaughn was the lone “no” vote, saying she was hoping to vote on the schools individually and felt the schools needed additional oversight to ensure they were adequately meeting the needs of the students.
Superintendent Addison Davis reassured Vaughn, the school board, and the parents and teachers in the crowd additional provisions will be met.
Multiple disagreements have arisen between Corcoran’s education department and the Hillsborough School District. Last year, Hillsborough put together their school reopening plan that kept all Hillsborough students at home through September, and Corcoran insisted the plan incorporate an August reopening.
The Hillsborough School District has also felt the need to defend the public school system after charter schools have gotten more popular. The school district loses approximately $250 million every year from students leaving public schools for charter schools.
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