You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

breaking news

Ex-Bak Middle School treasurer arrested on fraud charges

State overturns local board, allows charter school to be built


State officials gave a new charter school permission Wednesday to set up shop west of Delray Beach, overuling the Palm Beach County School Board’s attempt to block the school from opening its doors.

The Florida Board of Education voted unanimously to grant the South Palm Beach Charter School’s appeal to be allowed to open, four months after county school board members sought to prevent its opening with the novel argument that its plans were not sufficiently “innovative.”

School board members are worried about increased competition from charter schools, which are projected to enroll about 24,000 of the county’s 185,000 public school students next year. The emptying-out of many traditional, district-run schools is causing financial strains on the school system, educators say.

But school boards can only deny charter schools’ applications if they fail to meet the criteria set out in state law. In this case, a state appeal panel concluded that the school board “did not have good cause to determine that the applicant failed to meet the requirements.”

Members of the state Board of Education overruled the school board without discussion, just moments after a lawyer for the charter school’s management company, Charter Schools USA, accused the school board of having “gone rogue.”

“The school board simply denied the application because it was tired of losing money to charter schools and didn’t want to approve any more charter schools operated by Charter Schools USA,” said Stephanie Alexander, a lawyer representing the company. Charter Schools USA currently operates six schools in Palm Beach County.

Given the delays in its application, its unlikely that the school could open before August 2016, said Jim Pegg, head of the school district’s charter school office.

At the Board of Education’s meeting in Tallahassee Wednesday, a school board attorney argued that board members’ Dec. 10 decision was legally justified because, she said, the school’s application hadn’t explained how it would meet the state requirements that charter schools “shall encourage the use of innovative learning methods.” It marked the first time the school board had raised the issue of innovation to deny a charter school application.

“Its denial was based on the lack of innovative learning methods,” attorney Laura Pincus said.

The state’s reversal of the school board’s decision was not unexpected. During the December meeting when board members decided to reject the charter school over the superintendent’s recommendation, some board members suggested they were likely to be overruled. Board member Debra Robinson characterized the ‘no’ vote, and others before it, as “an act of civil disobedience.”

Reacting to Wednesday’s decision, School Board Vice Chairman Frank Barbieri said he would urge fellow board members to appeal the decision in court, arguing that the school board “lawfully exercized its constitutional authority in denying this charter.”

“This charter school chain operates schools which do not meet (charter schools’) intent and purpose, but are operated solely as a profit-making enterprise using taxpayer dollars,” he said in a statement. “Perhaps they should call them McCharter Schools since they want to build them on every corner.”

Also Wednesday, the Board of Education upheld the school board’s decision to reject another charter school: Lake Worth Classical Academy, which proposed to teacher Latin and Greek language and literary classics.

The school board had determined the school’s plan was not financially viable, in part because it depended on winning private grants and donations. The school’s managers appealed, but the board of education unanimously vote to reject the appeal.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

JUST IN: Florida man accused of urinating in mouth of girl, 7; assaulting her
JUST IN: Florida man accused of urinating in mouth of girl, 7; assaulting her

A Florida man is accused of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old child and urinating in her mouth, according to authorities.  Sean Michael Allen, 44, of Navarre, allegedly walked around the house naked, making the girl perform sex acts on him and touched her genitals, the Pensacola News Journal reported. The incident reportedly happened...
NEW: 7 Florida kids found in 'worst living conditions ever seen’ at home
NEW: 7 Florida kids found in 'worst living conditions ever seen’ at home

Police in Daytona Beach arrested two women on Wednesday after they found seven children living in a home covered with urine, feces, bugs and black mold. One officer said the apartment “had the worst living conditions I have ever seen children exposed to,” WKMG reports.  Sisters Shameka Jenkins, 21, and Melida Jenkins, 27 both...
WATCH: Gator goes after Florida man trying to take picture
WATCH: Gator goes after Florida man trying to take picture

A guy had a close call with a gator after he strayed from a path to take a better picture.  The man left other hikers on the boardwalk of La Chua Trail at Paynes Prairie in Gainesville and encroached on a mother alligator’s space as she was sunbathing, according to Ben Boukari Jr, who posted the video on Facebook.  <div>...
NEW: Uber driver, foster parent charged with rape gets October trial
NEW: Uber driver, foster parent charged with rape gets October trial

A trial date is set for Oct. 2 for Gary Timothy Kitchings, the foster parent and Uber driver charged with raping a passenger he drove home from SunFest in May. Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Joseph Murphy set the day Friday morning in a hearing that lasted a minute. Early on May 7, Jupiter police arrested Kitchings, 57, on charges of kidnapping, burglary...
NEW: Ex-Bak Middle School treasurer arrested on fraud charges
NEW: Ex-Bak Middle School treasurer arrested on fraud charges

A former Bak Middle School of the Arts treasurer was arrested early this morning after weeks of controversy about prosecutors’ decision not to charge her in connection with allegations that she stole and misspent tens of thousands of dollars in school funds. Cathleen Spring, 53, was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail shortly after midnight...
More Stories