Fla. board of education denies ‘double-F’ charter school appeal

The Florida Board of Education today declined a North Florida charter school’s bid to remain open another school year.

Orange Park Performing Arts Academy earned two consecutive F’s under Florida’s school grading system.

As a result, it must lose its charter contract unless it can show the school board it outperformed nearby schools with comparable demographics.

Adam Miller, the state’s school choice director, presented data showing the charter generally performed “significantly lower” than similar schools. Its lowest-performing students did especially poorly.

Some of those comparisons were not fair, Christopher Norwood argued on behalf of the school. Norwood, who leads an association of small mom-and-pop charters, said the school had to fight its authorizer, the Clay County school district, to receive basic things like its state funding allocation for reading. He contended the school, one of the first charters in its district, needed more time to improve.

“We want the schools to walk before we ask them to run,” he said.

However, Travis Christensen, a local conservative activist, pointed out the state rates none of Clay County’s other public schools below a C. If the school closes, he said, its students will wind up somewhere with better academic performance.

Five other charters also face closure under the “double F” rule. The performing arts elementary school was the only one that brought an appeal to the state board.

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