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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida legislature makes it easier to hire, fire charter school teachers

Florida charter schools, already exempt from many rules imposed on other publicly-funded schools, could soon find it easier than ever to deal with employee hiring and firing.

The state Legislature this week tucked an amendment into a bill that would make charter teachers at-will employees, without any opportunity for collective bargaining. The language, sponsored by Sen. John Legg -- who runs a charter school -- says that, regardless of statute otherwise:

"A charter school may hire instructional personnel and other employees on an at-will basis. Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, instructional personnel and other employees on contract may be suspended or dismissed any time during the term of the contract without cause."

The bill also broadens the application period for charter schools, which had been limited to August 1 by most school districts. The new rule would prohibit districts from refusing to accept applications before August 1. It also would create a system for applicants to pay $500 to have draft applications filed on or before May 1 reviewed and analyzed for potential defects.

In another change, the Legislature would remove the Charter School Appeal Commission from the decision-making process on appeals made by charter schools deemed "high performing" that are denied in efforts to expand. The education commissioner and State Board of Education would handle the appeals on their own.

Along with all this, lawmakers did seek to put some controls on charter schools in the aftermath of reports of misspending by charters slated for closure. New rules would require charters to submit uniform monthly financial reports to their sponsors, and set new rules limiting the ability to spend after being notified of their termination.

The bill with all its amendments is headed to Gov. Rick Scott for his consideration.

[Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 11:12am]


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