Athenian Academy loses bid to expand enrollment

Published June 19, 2013

NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco County charter school has lost its court bid to expand its enrollment over the objections of the local school district. Pasco Circuit Judge Stanley Mills issued a ruling Wednesday asserting that the school's effort to grow would run afoul of state charter school law. The law says that schools designated as "high performing" may not add to their enrollment in the year after they earn a grade of C or lower from the state. Athenian Academy of Pasco County, which wanted to add 108 students to its rolls in the fall, had received the "high performing" status, got a C last year and is projected to earn a D this year. Athenian officials said the school needed to grow to remain financially viable. Its lawyers argued that the school's contract with the Pasco school district provided for the increase. District lawyers, conversely, contended that state law should prevail. The district warned Athenian Academy in the spring that it would not be allowed to expand if the school gets another low grade, leading to the hearing last week before Mills. Athenian Academy board president Jim Mathieu said the school had little choice to comply, meaning it would have to turn away some children it had accepted. "There will be a lot of disappointed people," he said.