Pinellas School District recommends charter approval despite serious concerns
District staffers are recommending that the Pinellas County School Board approve Tuesday a charter application for Florida Virtual Academy at Pinellas County despite having "grave" concerns about the applicant.
The proposed online charter would be run by K12 Inc., an organization that is under investigation by the state Department of Education about allegations that it used uncertified teachers in some areas of its operation. Other school boards, including Pasco and Marion counties, have turned down K12 applications recently because of concerns about the allegations.
School districts don't have much latitude to deny charter applications. In Pasco, staffers also recommended approval. In Palm Beach County, the school board denied the application only to have its decision overturned in July by the state Board of Education.
District staffers in Pinellas said they were concerned that the proposed charter's governing board would be out of the county - possibly making it slow to respond to concerns that arise - and that the contact person for the charter was "sluggish" in responding to the district. Along with the investigation, district staffers said, "We are gravely concerned over the integrity of the virtual provider based on these allegations."
Staff said they would closely monitor the charter, but didn't deny it because its application "provided sufficient information" to meet state requirements for approval.