WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. —The courts have sided with the Florida Charter
Educational Foundation in its application to open a charter school in
Palm Beach County, putting the organization one step closer to
realizing its goal.
According to Florida Charter Education Foundation Chairman Rod
Jurado, an appeals court recently upheld the constitutionality of a
law that allows the State Board of Education to overturn local
denials of charter-school applications.
The dispute arose from an application by the Florida Charter
Educational Foundation and South Palm Beach Charter School to open a
charter school. The Palm Beach County School Board denied the
application, according to a report
by The News Service of Florida. The 4th District Court of Appeal
rejected the Palm Beach board's arguments that the law infringes on
local school boards' power for creating charter schools. Charter
schools are public schools usually operated by private companies, the
Jurado told the Florida Record that the organization
submitted a charter application under the state and county’s
“The school-system charter-review committee and superintendent
approved the charter,” he said. “When it went to the Palm Beach
School Board, they decided they didn't want to accept our application
and turned us down in a board meeting.”
Jurado said the foundation then appealed through the appropriate
process in Tallahassee through the Charter School Appeals Commission.
He noted that the CSAC, which makes recommendations to the State
Board of Education, ruled that the charter school should be approved.
“That commission agreed the PBSB had no reason to reject our
application and sided with my board. The PBSB decided they would
ignore the CSAC and maintained their position,” he said. “We took
it to the Florida State Board of Education, who agreed with us, and
the CSAC, and yet the PBSB still decided they didn't want our charter
school and they kept to their denial.”
The State Board of Education also sided with the FCEF, issuing an
that reversed the county's denial of the charter-school application.
After that decision, the Palm Beach School Board appealed to the
4th District Court of Appeals, alleging that the whole process was
unconstitutional, according to court documents.
“They allege that they (PBSB) alone had the right to control
charters in their district,” Jurado said. “The 4th District Court
of Appeals ruled that the process was constitutional and that the
PBSB was wrong.”
The Palm Beach School District now must respond to the decision,
and its options are limited.
“The 4th District Court of Appeals opinion confirmed our
position, so there will be no more appeals,” Jurado said. “It is
up to the Palm Beach School Board to accept this ruling or to
continue their fight.”
Edward J. Pozzuoli and Stephanie Alexander of Tripp Scott, P.A.,
in Fort Lauderdale handled legal representation for the Florida
Charter Educational Foundation, according to court documents.