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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Charter schools are public, too, Polk board member reminds



A letter dismissing a student from one of the McKeel charter schools in Polk County has riled up Polk School Board member Frank O'Reilly, who's sounding furious over what appears to be cherry picking of students by the charter. And yes, the McKeel name belongs to state Rep. Seth McKeel, who sits on the charter school's board of directors, serves on the Florida House Education Policy Council and whose family members have played prominently in the Polk school district.

At a recent board workshop, O'Reilly read a letter that he said was from McKeel schools superintendent Harold Maready to the family of a third grader who did not pass the FCAT, the Lakeland Ledger reports.

"Your child does not meet the criteria to be a McKeel student," he read.

If this is the case, O'Reilly noted, it should be easier for charter schools to earn and maintain high marks from the state. He called for a review of all Polk charter schools' student transfers, including the reasons.

"We must take every child that comes through the door whether we like it or not," O'Reilly said. "We must teach them and we are held responsible. That (McKeel) is a public school paid by taxpayers' dollars, and I like to remind Mr. Maready of that."

This could prove an interesting debate in light of the charter buzz emanating from Race to the Top, 'Waiting for Superman' and the like. And of course there's always the accusations that Florida lawmakers care more about charters and choice than proper funding for the mainstream public schools. Care to weigh in?

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 6:06am]


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