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Hillsborough School leaders reverse charter school decision

Dept. of Education threatening to withhold funding
Posted at 4:07 AM, Jul 20, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough school board reversed its decision on local charter schools after pressure from the state and residents.


The Hillsborough County School Board is under yet another tight deadline as they face legal action from the state after not renewing the charters of four charter schools.

They are meeting on Tuesday, July 20 at 8 a.m. to decide how to respond to the latest letter from the state asking them to reverse their decision or risk losing state funding.

At the most recent State Board of Education meeting in Seminole, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran asked Hillsborough County school leaders to comply with the law.

In a memo sent last week, Corcoran requested the state board find the Hillsborough School Board violated Florida statute and order them to comply with the law within ten days.

CONTINUING COVERAGE | Florida Department of Education focuses on Hillsborough Schools following charter school decision

The Hillsborough School board cited several reasons not to renew, including that some of these charters were not meeting the needs of special needs students.

But that decision prompted a letter from the Florida Department of Education, highlighting the potential negative impact their action could have on more than two thousand students, teachers and parents.

At the state board of education meeting, Corcoran said all of this is uncharted territory.

"We’ve never gotten to this point because normally elected officials follow the law," Corcoran said. "To be in this junction is unprecedented.”

However, in a Facebook Live video on Monday, July 19, Hillsborough School Board Member Jessica Vaughn, a former public school teacher, said the district's attorney said the school board has not broken state law by denying the four charter schools' renewals.

"How often are we going to allow the state to overreach and really decide what we need to do with our district?" she said on Facebook Live.

Vaughn said the board wants to ensure charter schools are held accountable.

The Hillsborough County School District loses about $250 million a year in state funding overall to charters.