Controversial New Charter School Commission Meets Under Threats of Lawsuits

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The battle is in full swing over who controls charter schools and your child’s education in Florida.

The Legislature took the power away from local school boards and gave it to the new Florida Schools of Excellence Commission. The commission met for the first time Friday in Tallahassee as opponents started gearing up for a lawsuit.

More than 100,000 students attend charter schools throughout Florida. Now those schools and any new charter schools will be under the authority of an appointed state commission instead of your local elected school board.

Wayne Blanton with the state School Boards Association hates the change and is already preparing to sue over it.

“Obviously it’s going to be very hard for a group of bureaucrats in Tallahassee to monitor all the charter schools throughout the state. That’s best done at the local level so we know what’s going on a day-to-day basis.”

But those state bureaucrats are blasting back. Education Commissioner John Winn told the new commission to focus on creating excellent new charter school programs, not lawsuits. Then he told us local school boards have plenty of their own problems to worry about.

“We have in excess of 2,000 teachers and school administrators that are reported for misconduct or unethical behavior or illegal behavior in the state of Florida.

State Rep. Ralph Arza helped push through the legislation to create the new commission and encourage more charter programs.

“I have not had one parent come up to me and say, ‘I’m insulted by you creating more choice for our children.’”

The battle is a lot like the debate over the state’s school voucher program, and the state lost that round in court. The courts will likely have a say on this one too.

The Florida School Boards Association plans to take the state to court over the new charter school commission in mid-October.