Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

School Board steps in to oversee Hillsborough charter school

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board terminated a Riverview charter school's contract Tuesday after a majority of the school's directors resigned.

District officials said they would step in to oversee Tampa Bay Academy for the rest of the year before deciding what to do with its 63 special-needs students.

"We have to make sure we're able to support their needs, in whatever venue," said superintendent MaryEllen Elia. "Nothing will change (today) for the parents or the students there."

The move followed weeks of efforts to stabilize the school, which was founded more than 15 years ago to serve students with emotional and behavioral problems.

In December, a residential treatment center and group homes for youths next to the school were closed, and in January officials say the school's management company abandoned it.

Officials said the Tampa Bay Academy charter school was not directly connected with the neighboring residential treatment facility, which shared its name and supplied many of its students.

But it was a state inquiry into reports of violence and runaways at the treatment facility — as well as the loss of Medicaid funding — that prompted the management company to close it, throwing the charter school into jeopardy.

The charter's four board members stepped in to run the school but quickly became overwhelmed.

"We had no option but to resign our positions," said member Joe Chillura, adding that he supports the district takeover. "We believe this suggestion is the only viable one that's going to keep the school operable."

Principal Bill Orris said he blamed the Texas-based management company Youth and Family Centered Services, rather than the board, for the troubles.

"Nobody on this campus did anything wrong," he said. "We've just done our jobs the best we could."

Orris, eight teachers and 27 aides will remain at the school.

Rhonda Brown, the only member of the school's board who refused to resign, urged the district to find a solution.

"The only appeal I am truly making is that you allow that school to stay open," she said.

Staff writers Sarah Whitman, Robbyn Mitchell and John Martin contributed to this report. Tom Marshall can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3400.

School Board steps in to oversee Hillsborough charter school 04/05/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 11:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. City Council approves $5 million for Clearwater Marine Aquarium expansion


    CLEARWATER — The City Council on Thursday approved contributing $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for its massive expansion project.

    Clearwater has agreed to contributed $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium 
's $66 million expansion project.. [ Clearwater Marine Aquarium] 

  2. Live blog: Some scuffles, shot fired, but otherwise calm after Richard Spencer speech at UF


    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    A Richard Spencer supporter is escorted by police along Hull Road outside of the Phillips Center after the white nationalist's speech on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Fla. on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.
  3. This unidentified man was punched outside of Richard Spencer's speech in Gainesville.
  4. Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger


    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration had no answers Thursday to key questions two weeks after an ambush in the African nation of Niger killed four U.S. soldiers, prompting demands in Congress for details, complaints of Pentagon stonewalling and a comparison to the 2012 Benghazi attack. The White House defended …

    In this image provided by the U.S. Army, a carry team of soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry the transfer case during a casualty return for Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, of Lyons, Ga., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 5, 2017. U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed on Oct. 4 and Wright and three other soldiers were killed. There were about a dozen U.S. troops and a company of Niger forces, for a total of about 40 service members in the joint mission. [Pfc. Lane Hiser | U.S. Army via AP]
  5. Trigaux: Florida, Tampa Bay lagging in growth of their startups

    Economic Development

    The annual assessment of how entrepreneurs are doing across the country is out from the Kauffman Foundation — among the best watchers of the nation's startup scene. How do Florida and Tampa Bay fare?

    Lured by financial incentives, startup GeniusCentral relocated from Manatee County in 2015 to St. Petersburg, promising to creatye 40 new jobs. It took downtown space in an appropriately creative workpace for entrepreneurs. It did not last there, later moving back to less expensive space in Manatee. A new Kauffman Index report on entrepreneurship found that Florida is a good place to launch startups but a tougher place to grow them.