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Charter critics raise questions about Hillsborough superintendent candidate

In a last-minute push, members of the League of Women Voters want the School Board to explore Addison Davis’ possible ties to Charter Schools USA.
Pat Hall of the League of Women Voters speaks with Addison Davis, a finalist for Hillsborough Schools Superintendent, on Jan. 16 at Rampello K-8 School in Tampa. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
Pat Hall of the League of Women Voters speaks with Addison Davis, a finalist for Hillsborough Schools Superintendent, on Jan. 16 at Rampello K-8 School in Tampa. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times staff]
Published Jan. 21
Updated Jan. 21

Critics of the for-profit charter management sector are taking an 11th-hour look at Hillsborough school superintendent hopeful Addison Davis and hoping School Board members ask hard questions before they put his appointment to a vote.

As an elected superintendent in Clay County, Davis has accepted contributions from a number of conservative political action committees since his first campaign for the 2016 race.

One is an organization called Conservative I Solutions for Jacksonville, listed with an address in Venice. It donated $1,000 to Davis in April.

A political action committee with the identical address and a similar name — Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville — has received at least $20,000 since 2015 from Charter Schools USA, a for-profit charter management company, and Red Apple Development, an affiliate that handles the company’s real estate matters.

“That should disqualify him,” said Pat Hall of the League of Women Voters, whose leaders have watched warily the growth of state-funded, independently managed charter schools in Hillsborough and beyond.

Hall and others in her organization are especially troubled by Charter Schools USA, which serves thousands of Hillsborough charter students in six schools.

One-on-one interviews between board members and the three superintendent finalists began Tuesday morning. At 2:30 p.m., the entire School Board will meet to interview them publicly and deliberate on their decision.

A vote is expected later in the afternoon. Based on points in previous school board rankings, Davis is the front-runner.

Hall said she and others are reaching out to the board members to make sure they are aware of the charter company donations.

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