Tensions over charter schools may be mounting in Palm Beach County.
Last week, the school district set out to overturn a charter school appeal, telling a state court of appeals that school boards have the right to block charters they don’t believe are “innovative.” Now, the Palm Beach Post reports it’s denying other charter school applications — citing a lack of innovation among other issues — and drawing the attention of statewide charter advocates like former state lawmaker Ralph Arza.
“The law says you have to have clear and convincing evidence to deny [a charter application],” said Arza, now spokesman for Florida Charter School Alliance. “They are finding ways to deny charters and in doing so they are becoming ground-zero for anti-charter school action.”
The district has denied other applications, including 15 this year. In 2013, the district received 33 applications and denied 17. The following year 22 applied and none were approved, said Jim Pegg, the director of the district’s charter school office.
But not until December, when Charter Schools USA asked to build a seventh campus in the county, did the board deny an application based on its lack of offering an innovative program. After the state sided with the company, the district appealed in court. A ruling could take two years, Pegg said.