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Red Hills Academy Considering Appeal After Charter School Application Denied

Parked yellow school bus
Jessica Palombo

Board members of a proposed charter school in Leon County say they’re considering an appeal after the school board denied their application. During a recent hearing on the school’s proposal, members of the Leon County School Board said the application left more questions than answers.

Red Hills Academy submitted an application on Feb. 1 to start a charter school in Leon County. That application was denied recently after the board expressed concerns about it. Board Chairwoman Joy Bowen said the application was incomplete.

"There were not enough details for me to think, alright I really really know that they are ready to go with this because I just didn’t see those t’s crossed and the i’s dotted," said Bowen.

But Board member Dee Dee Rasmussen says the district may be at fault and is likely to lose an appeal based upon how long it’s been since the application was first submitted.

"I feel like if this was appealed that we are going to look ridiculous with the underlying record upon which it looks like we didn’t do our job as a district," said Rasmussen. "We’ve had this application since Feb. 1, and the first thing we heard formally was yesterday and we’ve got 24 hours to make a decision."

If approved, Red Hills Academy would be the sixth charter school in the district. Two charter schools, Tallahassee Classical and Governors Charter, are both under capacity. And school board member Rosanne Wood is concerned about resources being spread thin with the introduction of another charter school.

"Tallahassee Classical School is at 46% capacity. Governor’s Charter is at 56% capacity and that’s one of the schools that this school named they were going to take students from," said Wood.

The state funds schools based on enrollment. The school board has 10 days from the date of denial to submit reasons to the applicant. Rasmussen, who voted to approve the charter school, thinks they’re going to have trouble listing those reasons.

"If we’re not going to approve it we better have a solid record underlying record about why and I don’t think we do," said Rasmussen.

The board previously rejected Tallahassee Classical Schools charter application—a decision overturned by the state.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.