Workplace charter schools remain rare in Florida

This year, Florida lawmakers wanted to give students more freedom to attend schools across district lines, arguing students’ educational options shouldn’t be limited by geographic boundaries.

In some places, this is happening already. Take, for example, The Villages, the sprawling age-restricted development  spanning Marion, Lake and Sumter Counties, which runs a charter school for its employees. The K-12 school enrolls nearly 3,000 students, making it one of the largest charter schools in the state.

It is one of just two schools in the state known as “charter schools in the workplace,” where students’ eligibility is based on where parents work, instead of where they live.

The Leesburg Daily Commercial recently reported the school is over capacity, and changed its rules governing which parents qualify.

The Villages has cut nearly 140 students from its rolls for next year. The students will have to be zoned back to the public schools they were assigned to attend, according to parents.

Parents said the students are being disqualified as the result of a new policy requiring business owners to lease a property directly from The Villages. If they sublease the property from a non-Villages entity, they are disqualified, parents said.

But The Villages Charter School officials say it is simply an issue of overcapacity at the schools.

“It’s a wonderful testimony to our teachers and faculty that so many folks want to send their kids to our school,” Principal Randy McDaniel wrote in an email. “However, just like other Florida schools we are restricted by the law limiting class sizes and our facilities have reached that capacity.”

The school is located in Sumter county, and authorized by the school district there, but it draws its students from the three surrounding counties in roughly equal proportions. Spokeswomen for the Lake and Sumter districts said they would likely have little trouble absorbing the 30 to 40 students turned away by the charter school.

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BY Travis Pillow

Travis Pillow is Director of Thought Leadership at Step Up For Students and editor of NextSteps. He lives in Sanford, Fla. with his wife and two children. A former Tallahassee statehouse reporter, he most recently worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization at Arizona State University, where he studied community-led learning innovation and school systems' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. He can be reached at tpillow (at)


In my opinion, Words can not express how bad this charter school is. I think it’s ratings are bought and paid for. DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD HERE in my opinion. It seems to me that the kids that get awards and scholarships are the bigwigs of the villages corp. and the teachers, Nice new buildings and terrible Administration in the Elementary school it is the worst. The math teacher is clueless and ineffective in the Elementary school and yet gets promoted, The most unprofessional leadership that I have ever seen. Teacher are ineffective and behind the times in teaching methods. This school has no problems with discriminating and do it openly with no remorse or care for the law. Southern charm with a knife in your back. This school should be investigated by the U.S department of Education, and the State of Florida. Sumter county school district has to know what’s going on. If they don’t, they must be in on it or are on the payroll. Never have I’ve experienced such blatant disregard of the laws both Federal and State. The laughed about not flowing the laws. This form of in the work place type charter school in designed for corruption. It’s self serving.
The most inept,unprofessional, uninformed, school. Remember it’s easy to be rated a 10 when you only take the best preforming kids and get rid of the under achieving kids like yesterday’s trash. This place needs a complete overhaul and the administration should be fired and investigated by the State and Feds for violating the law.

In my opinion and experience avoid this charter school at all cost.this school is a perfect examples of the the Florida education system can fail your child. Get ready to teach your child at home, the teachers are all to happy for you to do the teaching for them. This school is ineffectual and only about skimming the cream off the top. It is the quintessential small town politics taken to the next level. The only students for the most part that get Adelaide’s are the teachers kids and the corporate villages employees. The lack of resources to help children that are boarder line or below average is beyond despicable. It’s all about the bling. All smiles and pretty building with an underlying. Nasty malicious agenda to only service the villages elite,
The only thing that they care about is image. If your child has any learning issues you will be booted to the curb with a smile. Avoid this school at all cost………my child is devastated after attending this school for years. Unprofessional, ineffective and non compliant, They should be ashamed of them selves.

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