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Charter School in Florida Given a Second Chance on Late Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 12/4/2014

Just three months ago, a new charter school called Scholar Preparatory Academy opened its doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Just recently, though, the district's school board was threatening to close the school, as it had failed to meet a number of important requirements. And among those requirements was proof that all staff had undergone background checks.

According to a report published on Jacksonville.com, Scholar Preparatory was allowed to open its doors back in August, even though the school hadn't delivered paperwork to the district proving that background checks had been run. Evidently, some staff members had been checked and had their paperwork on file with the district. However, there were certain staff members, including the school's founder,”who had not undergone background checks yet when the school opened.

It seems that Scholar Preparatory Academy has since delivered paperwork validating background checks for the remainder of its staff. Still, the School Board with Duval County Public Schools has threatened to close the schools doors over other issues. For instance, the school was expected to have an enrollment of 130 students, but only had 87 at the beginning of the year. That number has since dipped to 66, which means that the school is arguably too small for the State of Florida to support.

Scholar Preparatory Academy is fighting against the closure threats, and has even hired legal counsel. Some parents are fighting against the Duval School Board, too, speaking out with positive opinions about Scholar Preparatory Academy, and asking the board to give the school more time to get its finances and policies in order. A judge has heard these pleas and given Scholar Prep another month to work things out. The grace period is a welcome one for the school. After all, things don't always immediately run smoothly for a new venture, which could explain how Scholar Prep officials ever overlooked something as important as background checks.

Still, while the school has an excuse to be a bit disorganized right now, the local school board does not have the same luxury. Plain and simple, someone should have noticed that Scholar Preparatory Academy had not provided background check paperwork for its entire staff, and should have spoken up about it. No school, be it public, private, or charter, should ever be allowed to open its doors and teach students unless background checks are on file for all teachers and administrators.

So far, it doesn't seem like the oversight at Scholar Academy resulted in any serious incidents. No teachers have been revealed as sex offenders, and no children have been harmed by an unchecked educator. However, the fact remains that such possibilities are very real any time a school doesn't do background checks. In not making sure Scholar's checks were airtight in time for the first day of school, the local school board put the safety of their students directly in jeopardy.

Source: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2014-11-30/story/charter-school-gets-reprieve-closure-it-fights-its-life

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