Judge sides with state on charter school standards

Rejecting arguments of charter schools, an administrative law judge Friday upheld a plan that would make charter schools ineligible for state construction and facilities money if they have “D” performance grades in two consecutive years.

Judge Darren Schwartz, in a 20-page order, sided with the Florida Department of Education and the State Board of Education in the dispute with two Miami-Dade County charter schools and the Florida Association of Independent Charter Schools.

The dispute stemmed from a proposed rule, approved by the State Board of Education in March, that said charter schools receiving an “F” grade or two consecutive grades lower than “C” would be ineligible for state capital-outlay funding. The proposed rule would take effect with the 2017-2018 year.

The proposed rule was challenged by the Florida Association of Independent Charter Schools, Aspira Raul Arnaldo Martinez Charter School and Miami Community Charter Middle School, which argued in part that state education officials overstepped their legal authority in the proposal.

The Miami-Dade charter schools received “D” grades for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 and would be ineligible for capital-outlay money if they received “D” grades again for 2016-2017, according to Schwartz's order. He rejected the arguments that state education officials had exceeded their authority, writing that the “proposed rule is supported by logic, the necessary facts, it was adopted with thought and reason, and it is rational.”