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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Report: For-profit charter companies perform worse than peers



Hillsborough and Pinellas aren't the only school districts to experience trouble with the management companies that run their charter schools.

A new report by the ProPublica investigative journalism group paints a troubling portrait of some of the firms that operate such schools.

Ohio-based White Hat Management -- which ran a LifeSkills Center in St. Petersburg until the Pinellas School Board shut it down last spring for poor academic performance --draws particular heat for the practices which have prompted 10 schools and the state of Ohio to join a lawsuit. They complain that the company's schools perform poorly and the company refuses to disclose how it's spending public money.

“We have no idea whether they’re earning a reasonable profit or not," an attorney representing the schools, James D. Colner, told ProPublica. "We have no idea whether the money is being efficiently or effectively spent for our students.”

Florida schools under contract with Phoenix-based Leona Group also got tangled up in litigation, with board members saying the company wouldn't hand over student records, accounts or even the master key to the building.

Nationwide, the ProPublica report says just half of the charter schools run by for-profit companies are meeting adequate yearly progress under federal standards, compared to 63 percent for all charter schools and 67 percent for traditional public schools.

And Florida has more schools run by for-profit management companies than any other state except Michigan, according to the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado/Boulder.

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 1:55pm]


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