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Learning Curve

  • An F for transparency
    “Look at this shiny thing over here!” – Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, Oct. 14, 2014.

Second thoughts in the Sunshine State

Questions about Imagine Schools Inc. and its nonprofit status have arisen in Florida, where the Hillsborough County School board in Tampa voted unanimously Tuesday to reject an application to open a charter school there.

The company, based in Virginia, has nonprofit status there but has not received federal nonprofit status. Florida's charter law requires a nonprofit organization to run the school with local oversight.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, the vote could have

ramifications for the 11 other Imagine schools already operating in

Florida,if the state determines the schools have invalid charters:

"Imagine has asked the Florida Department of Education to resolve that question, and to rule that all its previously approved charters be declared valid. Officials from the Pasco and Pinellas districts said they were satisfied their Imagine schools were operating as legal nonprofits.

"But a Florida Department of State official told the St. Petersburg

Times that he backed Hillsborough's interpretation.

"Under Florida law, there is no nonprofit LLC," said Jay Kassees,

director of the Division of Corporations."

The school district and the state of Florida are not hostile to

charter schools. At the same meeting, the school board authorized five new schools to open. The district already has 27 charter schools within its boundaries.

Indiana has four Imagine Schools, two each in Fort Wayne and

Indianapolis. The company is trying to open a third in southeast Fort Wayne and also to expand its existing schools to offer high

school-level classes.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at