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Charter schools could face punishment in Florida for breaking law

Here's an interesting topic you may not know much about: Florida charter schools and transparency laws. Within Florida, there are laws that make it a requirement to keep school information transparent. That means that by law, charter schools have to post financial, governance and academic information. This data allows others to see how the school is funded and how the students are doing academically, but for some reason, many schools in Florida are not posting this information.

After looking into the schools, it was found that even some of the highest performing schools didn't follow the transparency law, making them at risk of facing penalties. Interestingly, though, county school districts are responsible for ensuring that the laws are followed, and there are no specific punishments in place for when a school doesn't follow the rules.

The law passed in 2013 requires all of Florida's charter schools to post information including the governing board members, annual audits, academic performance data, state-issued letter grade, annual budgets, board meeting minutes and affiliations with charter management companies. When looking at schools that rated either "D" or "F" by the state, only 11 of the 69 were compliant, showing the real problem with the system. The rates don't get better with higher graded schools; only one met the requirements out of 37 schools reviewed.

In the future, schools could face serious consequences for disobeying these laws. Withholding funding is one option some have discussed, which could make some schools struggle to provide for their students' needs. As someone in charge of a school like these, it's important to make sure you're meeting local and state requirements. If you're accused of not doing so, then seeking legal help is an option you have.

Source: Naples News, "Many Florida charter schools violate state transparency law without consequence" Jacob Carpenter, Dec. 13, 2014

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