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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco charter school seeks way around admission lottery



Florida statute says that charter schools, as public schools, must be open to any student residing in the district where they operate. The charters must employ a random lottery to select students from those who apply.

The Dayspring Academy, a K-8 arts-themed charter school in Pasco County, wants some wiggle room around that law.

In a brief letter to the Pasco School Board, dated Oct. 11, the school's chairman asked for permission to admit 18 children from Dayspring's voluntary prekindergarten program through a lottery into the K-8 Academy. On Tuesday, superintendent Heather Fiorentino asked the board for direction.

"We were going to decline," she said, citing the law and district pre-k feeder pattern practices as reasons. "I just want to make sure I am not way off bounds with the new board."

Board members agreed they did not want to set any sort of precedent, particularly since other charter schools also have prekindergarten programs that do not feed directly into their primary schools.

John Legg, a state representative who helps run Dayspring, said the school has no intention of subverting law. In fact, he said, the school's leaders believe the law is on their side in making the charter school begin at pre-k rather than kindergarten, so long as it remains a public program open to all through a lottery.

At least a couple of parents a month call requesting to stay in the school after VPK ends, he said. The goal was only to help.

"We thought we were doing our due diligence by telling the district what we want to do," Legg said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 1:57pm]


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