Pasco judge denies charter school's attempt to expand
The Athenian Academy of Pasco County's attempt to win a court order to allow it to add 100 students to its enrollment did not survive a judge's scrutiny.
Pasco Circuit Judge Stanley Mills issued a two-page ruling on Wednesday saying that the school's effort to expand its student body did not jibe with state law governing charter schools deemed "high performing." The law says high-performing charter schools may grow their enrollment, but not in the year after they receive a state grade of C or worse.
Pasco school district officials warned the Athenian Academy that the school would not be allowed to add 108 seats to its total enrollment if the school, which got a C in 2012, gets another one this summer. The school's FCAT passing rates declined this year, and district officials have projected the school will earn a D grade.
Lawyers for the charter school argued that the school's contract with the district set forth annual enrollment growth, regardless of that statute. Judge Mills disagreed. He wrote:
"It seems clear that the legislature intended, as a matter of public policy, to prohibit high-performing schools from increasing their enrollment until such schools demonstrated that they could achieve grades better than a 'C.' Under the circumstances of this case, to allow the contract to prevail over the provisions of 1002.331(4), Florida Statutes, would be impermissible."
The state has yet to issue 2013 school grades.