05-25-2018 Informal Hearing Legacy Academy Charter, Inc.
The School Board of Brevard County, Florida met for an informal hearing with Legacy Academy Charter, Inc. on Friday, May 25, 2018 at the Educational Services Facility, 2700 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera, Florida. Notice of the meeting was advertised in Florida Today on Monday, May 21, 2018. The affidavit of publication with a copy of the ad attached is filed in the Affidavit File in the Board Office.
1. Opening Exercises
Chairman Craig called the informal hearing to order at 10:13 a.m. He provided a brief timeline:
- On April 27, 2018, the Superintendent received a letter from the Board Chair of Legacy Academy Charter advising that the Governing Board “voted unanimously to request a hearing challenging the 90-day termination notice pursuant to section 1002.33(8)(b), Florida Statutes.”
- On May 1, 2018, counsel for Legacy Academy Charter submitted an additional request for hearing.
- In this case, both requests for hearing were timely filed.
- Pursuant to the Administrative Procedures established under Board Policy 9800, Section Y governs the process in charter non-renewals or terminations and provides that, upon receiving a request from the School’s governing body, the Sponsor shall “conduct the informal hearing within thirty (30) calendar days after receiving a written request.”
Mr. Craig then asked for Dr. Blackburn to provide more background and his recommendation to the Board for the 90-day termination.
Pledge of Allegiance
Order of Business
2. Superintendent's Recommendation
Dr. Blackburn explained that Legacy opened its doors to students in August of 2017. He continued that staff has been working with the school consistently to guide them through the procedural aspects of the requirements in their application, the Charter Contract, and in the Florida Statutes.
He said that the School has cured some aspects of deficiencies, while others have remained outstanding. There have been numerous communications between staff and the School regarding the aspects of the School’s operation. He further stated that it is the deficiencies of the School that led to his recommendation on April 17, 2018, at a public meeting, to authorize him to send a letter notifying Legacy of the proposed ninety (90) day termination of the Charter Contract pursuant to Section 1002.33(8)(b), Florida Statutes. The Board authorized him to do so and the notice was issued on April 18, 2018. Legacy’s requests for hearing were received within the timeframes allowed by the Florida Statutes and in Board Policy 9800.
3. Hearing Procedures
BPS General Counsel Amy Envall explained that the meeting was an informal hearing in the Charter School termination process. Because it was an informal hearing, the formal rules of evidence did not apply.
Ms. Envall stated that though it was informal hearing, the Board could take any action it deemed appropriate and/or necessary. That included but was not limited to, (1) staying the course with the 90-day termination process, which, since a petition has been filed with Legacy, would be sent to the Department of Administrative Hearing to be assigned to an Administrative Law Judge, (2) re-consider the prior approval of any or all of the elements identified in the 90-day letter, determining which, if any, would be appropriate to move forward as the legal basis for the termination, or (3) any other action the Board deems necessary.
4. Presentataion of Case by BPS Staff
Minutes: Attorney Nutcher swore in Stephanie Archer, assistant superintendent of Equity, Innovation and Choice. She proceeded to ask questions regarding the timeline and Legacy's deficiencies. Ms. Archer said that the school had been given ample time and District support to cure the deficiencies.
5. Presentation of Case by Legacy Charter
Legacy Attorney, Shaun Arnold, began by reiterating that the school's academic performance was very good. While he acknowledged there were significant issues, he said they planned to work very diligently to rectify the problems. He did mention that he disagreed with some interpretations the District had about some of the issues.
He suggested that Legacy and the District work collaboratively toward a corrective action plan. He did not feel the District would prevail should the 90 day termination move toward a hearing.
Legacy Attorney Braxton Padgett presented some information as well. Board members had an opportunity for questions.
6. Rebuttal by BPS Staff/Legacy Attorney
There was clarification that support was offered to Legacy Charter by District Staff.
Mr. Ziegler asked if the Legacy had a strategic plan illustrating how the deficiencies were going to be handled and by whom.
Mr. Arnold stated that there was going to be a change in leadership. Mr.Arnold said they are working with the new leadership to develop the corrective action plan.
Mr. Ziegler said he hasn't seen anything that makes him confident the issues will be resolved.
Mr. Susin said he thought the Board would have been presented with a budget outlining what had been rectified and what the plans were to fix the rest. He also thought that new leadership would have already been put in place.
Mr. Arnold said they did submit a budget that shows surplus.
Ms. Belford asked some questions on the pre-opening checklist to Ms. Archer She asked if the checklist is customized to Legacy or does every charter school get the same checklist. Ms. Archer said that it is the same for each charter school. Ms. Belford asked some more clarifying questions of Ms. Archer and Mr. Arnold and Legacy Board member, Napoleon Carroll.
Ms. Belford said that she has absolutely no doubt that everyone involved in Legacy has a passion for doing the absolute best for kids. She continued that Legacy faced some challenges when it opened. She asked Mr. Carroll as Board Chair, what he has done to try to rectify the challenges. Mr. Carroll responded that the greatest challenge is that they have been under a cloud from the first day that the school opened. Consequently hiring and maintaining staff has been a great challenge. He stated that the other piece is having to put policies in place to cover the issues brought to them by the District. He said they have pretty much spent most of their time looking at the issues that District staff has put in front of them.
Ms. Belford wants Legacy to be successful. She said that she has enormous concerns about the perception that the District has done this "bad thing" to Legacy. She said the most important quality in a leader is ownership of both of success and failure. She doesn't see the Legacy Board taking ownership of the issues. She told Mr. Carroll that it is incredibly frustrating to her as she knows the intent of the Board and the District is not for Legacy to fail. She says that unless the Board takes ownership of the issues, they will never be successful and she desperately wants them to be successful.
Mr. Craig asked Ms. Archer asked if other District staff besides those in Equity, Innovation and Choice had helped with Legacy opening in its temporary location. Ms. Archer said that Educational Technology (ET) had assisted. ET submitted a plan which Legacy did not implement. .
Ms. Nutcher interjected that it is the pattern of inconsistency with which they are most concerned.
7. Discussion, Deliberation and/or Vote by Board
The Board decided to take no further action. Accordingly, the Board's decision at the April 17, 2018 public meeting to authorize Superintendent Blackburn to send a letter notifying Legacy of the proposed 90-day termination of the Legacy Academy Charter School contract stands and the resulting proposed 90-day termination letter dated April 18, 2018 remains in effect.
Minutes: Nothing further was noted.
Minutes: Chairman Craig adjourned the meeting at: 12:38 p.m.