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Charter School Authorization Bill Gets Revived For 2016 Session

House Choice & Innovation Committee
Florida Department of Education

A massive charter school bill is getting revived ahead of the 2016 lawmaking session. The plan would standardize charter school applications across the state, and change the way such schools are terminated, expanded, approved, or denied. House Choice and Innovation Committee Chairman Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Miami, says Florida’s current system of approving charters is viewed negatively by some.

“In these cases, the districts acting as authorizers is like McDonald’s telling Burger King where they can open up a franchise, for lack of a better term.”

A similar bill died last session amid legislative in-fighting. The proposal has gotten pushback from school districts who say it interferes with local control, but Diaz says he wants to promote high quality charters.

“What we don’t want to see is barriers put up arbitrarily that prevent quality options to be provided to our kids and our parents," he said.

The proposal includes language for charters to provide more financial disclosure, and immediate termination for poor performance. It also makes it harder for districts to deny applications. The bill's return comes as the Palm Beach School district is suing over the process used by the state to override local charter school decisions.