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Five Hillsborough charter schools could be terminated

TAMPA — Four more charter schools have been put on notice that they could lose their licenses to operate as public schools in Hillsborough County.

Carl Sagan, Anderson Elementary, Richardson Montessori and ReBirth academies have all been told by the district that poor student academic performance has put their contracts in jeopardy. Sagan received its third consecutive D grade last year, while ReBirth got its second. The other two schools received F grades.

A fifth charter school, Metropolitan Ministries Academy, was told last month that its students' performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test could mean the end of its sponsorship by the district.

Charter schools are public and receive state and local funds. They must abide by state laws, including those governing student testing, but have more freedom to develop policies and programs.

In April letters, superintendent MaryEllen Elia told the five Tampa schools she would recommend that their charters be terminated.

But officials say that recommendation could be modified, based on school actions and this year's FCAT numbers.

Still, for two schools, the district's concern goes beyond student test scores.

District documents say Sagan and Anderson haven't shown evidence of adequately serving special-needs students.

Sagan board chairman Sheldon Busansky disputed that in a letter, saying the school would show "how we have properly fulfilled their needs."

Anderson Academy also has shown "financial mismanagement" in the form of late payments to districts and vendors, as well as unpaid employees, the school district said.

The school failed to submit quarterly financial statements to the district on time this spring, and fell behind in payments to the district's food services office by more than $8,000, according to district documents.

Also, employees complained of not being paid on time, the district said.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3400.

Five Hillsborough charter schools could be terminated 06/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 2:12pm]
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