Florida charters, ghost students
Charter schools in Florida that aim to rescue potential dropouts are raking in millions of state dollars for students who aren't showing up, according to this investigation by the Scripps Howard News Service. In 2006-07, such charters collected at least $25 million despite a daily average of 5,125 missing students, the story says. (The story does not say what percentage that is.)
The story emphasizes for-profit charters, and cites the Richard Milburn Academy schools in Hillsborough and Pasco, both of which were shut down by their districts. Sixty percent of students at the Hillsborough academy missed at least 2 days in 2004-05, giving the school the sixth highest truancy rate in Florida. (You can read more about those academy schools in this St. Pete Times story.)
Another charter chain with high rates of absenteeism, White Hat Management, which runs 11 Life Skills Center schools in Florida, offered this response:
"It is a constant challenge to keep our students in school – many of them have lost the discipline of daily attendance and almost all of them have other responsibilities such as jobs and families that make it harder for them to balance their schedules. There is absenteeism at Life Skills Centers as there is at public schools. It is surprising that it isn't higher."
The news service found the same issues in other states. For the national version of the story, click here.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter