Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco charter school sues district over enrollment cap

LAND O'LAKES — A charter school has sued the school district over a refusal to let the school expand its enrollment.

Athenian Academy wants to increase its student body from 390 to 472 for the fall. School officials say it needs to grow to remain financially viable and argue their contract with the district allows the added numbers.

Superintendent Kurt Browning has rejected the charter's request, pointing to state law that says a charter school receiving a C grade or lower after being rated high-performing "may not increase enrollment or expand grade levels."

Athenian earned a C in 2012.

The lawsuit contends that the district's rejection violates its contract, which sets Athenian's student enrollment for 2013-14 at no more than 498. That language exists regardless of the school's rating, the lawsuit suggests.

"We have a contract," said Jim Mathieu, chairman of the Athenian Academy board of directors. "We expect them to live up to it."

The school has asked a court to order the district to allow the increased enrollment, for which the school has already held a lottery and created a waiting list.

"Getting this resolved four months from now doesn't help us," Mathieu said, noting that classes resume mid August.

Browning told the School Board in an agenda item to be reviewed Tuesday that Athenian Academy's fate rests in its own hands. If it earns a state grade of B or A, he wrote, "the school's maximum enrollment will be 472 students, as requested by Athenian Academy in writing on March 1, 2013. This enrollment is supported by their contract."

But if its gets a C or worse for a second straight year, Browning wrote, statute provides that "the term of the charter may be modified by the sponsor and the charter school loses its high-performing charter school status."

Athenian Academy's third-grade FCAT passing rates have declined markedly this year.

During this dispute, Mathieu said, the district has reduced Athenian's funding for student transportation and special education by about $50,000, claiming the school's reporting was inaccurate. He sent a letter to Browning on Wednesday demanding reimbursement.

District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said the district will be meeting with Athenian officials Monday to discuss the accounting differences.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at

Pasco charter school sues district over enrollment cap 05/31/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 31, 2013 8:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.