Board attorney: Melrose changes need board approval
Pinellas School Board attorney Jim Robinson weighed in on the proposed - and now postponed - Melrose Elementary revamp yesterday, telling board members they do indeed have to approve a change of that magnitude. "Even if the program at Melrose, which apparently has been delayed, is not intended to be a lab school within the meaning of Sec. 1002.32, F.S., it is a program nonetheless and will require Board approval," Robinson wrote.
As we reported yesterday, several board members were not happy that Superintendent Julie Janssen did not keep them in the loop on details of a partnership between Melrose and the University of Florida. They thought the changes required board approval. Janssen said they did not. Here is more from Robinson's full email:
I just received a question from a member and a copy of an email from Sami Scott that raises questions concerning Melrose as a developmental (lab) school. I raised this issue with the Superintendent last month, explaining the meaning of lab schools under the School Code, and was advised she did not intend the program to follow the statutory model. There was to be further discussion.
I raised the issue in response to Mrs. Lerner's questions about possible changes at Melrose. I discovered the plan, as expressed in the 2011-2012 Program Guide (see below), to open a developmental lab school with the University of Florida next year. I do not recall there having been Board action taken to approve this step, and the repercussions would be enormous. I've copied the relevant statute below. Essentially, the statute says a lab school is to be affiliated with the closest university, which would be USF, of course. A lab school is run by the university and an advisory board, not the school board.
Even if the program at Melrose, which apparently has been delayed, is not intended to be a lab school within the meaning of Sec. 1002.32, F.S., it is a program nonetheless and will require Board approval.