Just two months after the Florida Board of Education approved rules governing "Schools of Hope," two firms have applied to become providers in the controversial new charter school program created by lawmakers in 2017.
IDEA Public Schools, based in Weslaco, Texas, and Miami-based Somerset Academy, the company that took over Jefferson County's struggling schools, are the first to seek permission to open charter schools in communities served by district schools that persistently earn D's and F's in the state grading system.
Somerset is affiliated with Academica, one of Florida's largest charter companies.
House leaders said they wanted to bring to Florida more nationally known charter operators with track records of success turning around low-performing schools.
Several districts have challenged the program, saying the Legislature had no authority to create a separate class of public schools that are not supervised and authorized by the local school boards.
While that lawsuit winds its way through court, the state continues to forge ahead. If approved, the Hope operators will have state permission to enter into agreements with districts create one or more charters serving students in those perpetually struggling district schools.
The Florida Board of Education will consider the applications when it meets Wednesday in LaBelle.