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Leon School Board Postpones Votes To Approve Charter Schools

Ryan Dailey

A night of emotional back and forth has not yielded a decision as to whether two new charter schools can open in Leon County for the coming school year.

Votes to approve charters for Tallahassee Classical School and Plato Academy will have to wait at least two weeks. The Leon County School board tabled both decisions by a 4-1 vote, board chair Alva Striplin being the only ‘no’ vote both times.

Superintendent Rocky Hanna has firmly maintained his position recommending both charters be denied. During the meeting, he told those advocating for the schools that should they be approved by the local or State board, he will provide support.

“I know some of you may find this hard to believe, but this is not personal. At all. And it’s not about power, I can promise you that. It’s about money, it’s about economics and it’s about limited resources. It’s not at all about the power,” Hanna said. “And we have a good relationship with our existing charters. If this goes through and you’re approved, I will fight tooth and nail for the children that you serve. Because at the end of the day, they’re our children too.”

Should the Leon board deny either charter, both schools would have the opportunity to appeal its decision to the State Board of Education.

Attorney Shawn Arnold serves as counsel for both schools. He says he would like to see a decision made at the local level, but believes the State Board would not find cause to deny the applications on appeal.

“We would have liked to have gotten an approval this evening. I understand that they have some additional questions, and we look forward to educating them on any questions that they have and continuing any discussions that they may need,” Arnold said. “Or if they have questions about the process, we’re happy to talk to them about it.”

The board is expected to take the issue up again at its next meeting on April 24.