Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Charter school operators continue to fund Susan Valdes' School Board campaign

Hillsborough County School Board chair Susan L. Valdes, right, has received $12,000 in donations from charter school operators. That’s more than a third of the $27,000 she has raised so far. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times (2015)] 

Hillsborough County School Board chair Susan L. Valdes, right, has received $12,000 in donations from charter school operators. That’s more than a third of the $27,000 she has raised so far. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times (2015)] 

TAMPA — Susan Valdes' bid for a fourth term on the Hillsborough County School Board is getting generous support from charter school operators.

At last count, Valdes had logged $12,000 in donations from charter management companies, founders of charter schools and affiliated businesses, some local but many from Broward and Dade counties.

That's more than a third of the $27,000 she has raised so far.

The donations include $1,000 from Timothy Kilpatrick, the founder of Kid's Community College in Riverview, and $1,000 from Formation Technologies, a company in which Kilpatrick has an ownership interest.

Kid's Community, in a case the Tampa Bay Times detailed this month, spent two years locked in battle with district officials who were concerned about employment conflicts of interest and pressure placed on parents to donate money.

School leaders insisted there were no illegal conflicts and any parent donations were strictly voluntary. Shortly after Jeff Eakins replaced MaryEllen Elia as superintendent in 2015, the two sides resolved their differences. Valdes was board chairwoman at the time. In January, with April Griffin as chairwoman, the board extended the schools' contracts and greenlighted a new Kid's Community high school as well.

The other donors include three entities affiliated with Michael Strader, described on the Charter School Associates Inc. website as "a lifelong educator and businessman with involvement in over 50 charter school start-ups."

Schools under the Charter School Associates umbrella include Bell Creek Academy and Bell Creek High School, both in Riverview.

Charter schools use tax dollars but are managed independently, often by for-profit corporations. They enjoy strong support from school choice advocates who reject the notion that government districts can meet all children's needs.

But, as charter schools generally employ non-union labor and require more from parents than government-run schools, they are accused increasingly of creating a two-tier system of public education that leaves the poorest children at an even greater disadvantage.

Of the $12,000 in donations, $9,000 was recorded in May.

In December, Valdes recorded another $3,000 from Fort Lauderdale-based Charter Schools USA, its majority owner Jonathan Hage, and Red Apple Development, an affiliated company that is involved in building the schools.

Charter Schools USA operates three schools in Hillsborough County and hopes to have 20 in the Tampa Bay area by 2020.

Valdes faces one campaign challenger as the June 24 qualifying deadline approaches: Bill Person, a retired teacher, principal and school district administrator. Person has raised only $5,800, including $4,250 of his own money that he loaned the campaign.

Person has the endorsement of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. But a greater number of teachers and school district employees — including Jenna Hodgens, the district's general director of charter schools — are donating to Valdes.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol.

Charter school operators continue to fund Susan Valdes' School Board campaign 06/13/16 [Last modified: Monday, June 13, 2016 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments

    Bucs

    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Massive crocodile seen roaming the streets, and there was only 1 thing a cop could do

    Wildlife

    Name one thing you really don't want to see around 4 a.m. walking around your neighborhood.

    Watch out for that croc.

    A crocodile was seen roaming a street in Miami-Dade.
  3. Pinellas County Sheriff's employee resigns under investigation related to domestic violence arrest

    Crime

    LARGO — A civilian Pinellas County Sheriff's Office employee resigned Tuesday while under an internal investigation that began after he was arrested on domestic battery charges.

    Joshua Volz resigned Tuesday from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. He had been under investigation after he was arrested for domestic battery, according to police. [Pinellas County Jail]
  4. Mom accused of burying guns after fatal teen shooting declines plea deal

    Criminal

    TAMPA — The Valrico mother accused of hiding the guns after her teenage son shot and killed another boy in their garage told a judge Tuesday that she wants a trial, not a plea deal.

    Heidi Quinn is accused of hiding two guns after her son, Cody, fatally shot 17-year-old Jayquon Johnson in their garage. She faces charges of tampering with evidence. Her son was not charged in Johnson's death because authorities ruled it self-defense. He does face related drug charges. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Stone says no coordination between Trump campaign and Russia

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone said Tuesday he's "aware of no evidence whatsoever" that Trump's campaign coordinated with Russians during the 2016 election.