Rep. Manny Diaz, dean of Doral College, a private university run by the state’s largest for-profit charter school management firm, Academica, is at it again. He’s filed another bill to strip school boards of the power to authorize charter schools. His bill, HUR 759, seeks to create a state level charter school approval process that eliminates districts from the process. Currently, districts are able to approve or deny charters and recent legislation has already given the state has the power to over ride their decisions.
This is not the first time Diaz has tried this legislation. Large for-profit charter school chains such as Academica and Charter Schools USA have ignored the state requirement that charters be innovative. Lobbyists for these groups are currently involved with a dispute in Palm Beach County over what many feel are predatory charter school applications which offer no new innovations, yet serve to drain highly rated district schools of students making both schools under-populated.
A massive charter school bill is getting revived ahead of the 2016 lawmaking session. The plan would standardize charter school applications across the state, and change the way such schools are terminated, expanded, approved, or denied.
House Choice and Innovation Committee Chairman Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Miami, says Florida’s current system of approving charters is viewed negatively by some.
“In these cases, the districts acting as authorizers is like McDonald’s telling Burger King where they can open up a franchise, for lack of a better term.”
A similar bill died last session amid legislative in-fighting. The proposal has gotten pushback from school districts who say it interferes with local control, but Diaz says he wants to promote high quality charters.
“What we don’t want to see is barriers put up arbitrarily that prevent quality options to be provided to our kids and our parents,” he said.
The proposal includes language for charters to provide more financial disclosure, and immediate termination for poor performance. It also makes it harder for districts to deny applications. The bill’s return comes as the Palm Beach School district is suing over the process used by the state to override local charter school decisions.