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  1. Florida

Senator files bill to require stricter vetting of Florida charter school applicants

As stories of Florida charter schools dealing with mismanagement, financial woes and more have increasingly gained public notoriety, state lawmakers have again started talking about putting restrictions on applicants seeking to open new ones.

Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, who recently has become more vocal on education issues (especially technology and testing issues), is first out of the box with a proposal to rein in the charter world's bad actors.

Ring filed SB 140 on Tuesday, the first of what is expected to be many bills targeting this hot education area. In relevant part, it proposes:

6. A person, or an officer of an entity, who submits an application pursuant to this subsection must undergo background screening in the same manner as instructional and noninstructional personnel hired or contracted to fill positions in a charter school or as members of the charter school's governing board are screened under s. 1012.32. Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, a charter application may not be approved until the person's or officer's screening is completed and the results have been submitted to the sponsor. (g) After approval of an application but before the first day of classes at the charter school, a charter school applicant shall provide verified evidence that the school has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. ...

20. No later than 60 calendar days before the first day of school, documentation of adequate financial resources to support the operation of the charter school. Documentation may include bank statements, financial statements, loan documents, and any other business and financial records. 21. Disclosure of the name of each applicant, governing board member, and proposed management company or cooperative, if any; the name and sponsor of any charter school currently operated or previously operated by such parties; and the academic and financial history of such charter schools. 22. Documentation that the governing board is independent of any management company or cooperative and may, at its sole discretion, terminate a contract with the management company or cooperative at any time.

We'll be keeping up with these proposals as they flow in. Committees begin meeting in September. Stay tuned.