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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Class size reduction: not for Florida charter schools

23

January

While pondering how to cope with the expense of the state's class size mandates, perhaps Florida's public education leaders might want to chew on this: A state hearing officer has ruled that the 2002 class size amendment does not apply to charter schools.

In a nutshell, the Renaissance Charter School Inc. and the Lee Charter Foundation Inc. -- both subsets of Charter Schools USA -- complained to the state last March that the class size amendment was hurting their operations.

Yet the Florida Department of Education hasn't adopted any rules for charter schools to follow if they haven't met the amendment's requirements. So charter schools shouldn't have to comply. Right?

Right, says administrative law judge Suzanne Hood.

In a 24-page final order, issued in December, Hood found that "there is no specific statutory requirement for charter schools to comply with the maximum class size statute." She noted that the DOE rules do not even mention charter schools.

She concluded:

"(The Florida DOE) does not have the authority to implement a regulatory framework requiring charter schools to comply with the class size amendment. Until the Legislature determines otherwise or a rule has been adopted, (the Florida DOE) cannot apply the maximum class size statute to charter schools."

Do we hear the sound of districts preparing paperwork to convert their schools to charters? Keep watching this one.

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[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:12am]

    

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