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Tallahassee Classical School Prevails On Appeal, Gets Green Light To Open

Tallahassee Classical School

Proposed charter Tallahassee Classical School has the green light to open in Leon County. The Department of Education’s Charter Appeal Commission has sided with the school over the district.

After being denied by the local school board, Tallahassee Classical School found success at the next level. The state Charter Appeal Commission recommended the school be approved as the district’s fifth charter school.

Normally, a decision would head to the State Board of Education. But the district has accepted the Commission’s decision.

Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna represented the district in making its case against the proposed charter. Hanna raised concerns the school is looking to set up shop in what he calls an “affluent” portion of Northeast Tallahassee.

"I’m concerned about the location, and location’s a big deal," Hanna said. "I go back to the purpose of these schools, (which) was to improve reading for low-performing students. In that geographic location in our county, that’s not the case. All the schools in that area are A schools."

But location wasn’t part of the Appeal Commission’s consideration. It judged the school’s application on three criteria: Its plan to provide transportation, how it will recruit students of diverse backgrounds, and accommodation of students with disabilities. In the end, it found the school’s application satisfied requirements.

Attorney Shawn Arnold represents Tallahassee Classical. He says Hanna and the district’s concerns can be addressed by working together.

"This is a negotiation, the conversation we said we would have with the district," Arnold told the Commission. "But the time and place to have that is after the charter is approved. And we’re willing to do that."

In a Tweet following the ruling, the district welcomed the school, adding, “We look forward to seeing your leadership” at future administrator meetings.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.