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Leon is getting its 6th charter school after the state ed board overrides the district's charter application rejection

students doing an art assignment while sitting at horizontal tables
Tasha Weinstein
WFSU Education
Students at the old Imagine School at Evening Rose where Leon's new charter will be located.

Leon County is getting a new charter school in Red Hills Academy. The State Board of Education overrode a rejection by the local school board Wednesday, making Red Hills the district’s 6th charter school.

The Leon County School Board rejected Red Hills’ application in April, even though it had won approval from the district’s own charter review committee. Board members Rosanne Wood, Darryl Jones, and Joy Bowen cited concerns about the need for the school with other charters being under capacity, and stretching financial resources too thin—charter schools are considered public schools in Florida but are free from many of the same rules and regulations that govern traditional schools.

An appeals commission in August said the district did not have good cause to reject Red Hill’s application. Speaking Wednesday before the State Board of Education, Red Hills board chair Laura Joanos said the school is responding to parental concerns.

"We just feel Leon county is not offering a good choice for public education. This will give parents a good choice for their children in a loving environment, a small school atmosphere, and that they’ll be able to participate more and be appreciated more at Red Hills Academy.”

Red Hills was given an hours’ notice before its application was taken up by the Leon School Board in April—leaving it little time to be able to respond to concerns. Superintendent Rocky Hanna waived the district's right to speak before the state board, stating he would comply with its decision.

The Leon School Board previously denied Tallahassee Classical School’s Charter Application which was also overridden by the state. Red Hills is planning to open its school on Austin Davis Drive near the intersection of Mahan and Capital Circle.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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