Fla. Senate to vote on failing public school bill



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida parents could soon have the power to turn a failing public school into a charter school.

State lawmakers are debating the “parent trigger” bill.

It's known as the “parent trigger” because the majority of parents could vote to pull the trigger on their failing school and turn it over to a for-profit charter school management company.

It is a bill that could change the face of public education.

The Florida Senate is set to vote on the bill by Wednesday.

Orange County School Board Member Christine Moore has concerns.

"I have Phyllis Wheatley in south Apopka, the only 'F' school in the district. And while I'm hopeful the grade will go up, and we're building them a new facility, it would be really sad to see in a year or two that building be taken over by a company out of state," Moore said.

The principal of Hiawassee Elementary School, Jennifer Gramzinski, said things improved at her school without the law.

Hiawassee Elementary School was expected to receive an "F" rating under the state's new more rigorous standards.

Instead the principal started a movement that turned the school's “C” into an “A.”

"We had volunteers here every Saturday for 10 weeks," Gramzinski said.

Gramzinski said traditional public schools are best equipped to turn struggling schools around.

"All of our teachers, faculty (and) staff have dedicated their lives to educating children and wanting to better our public school system," Gramzinski said.

The group pushing the bill argues the "parent trigger" gives parents "a seat at the table" to make decisions about their child's struggling school.

Moore disagrees.

"Certainly, (the) parent should have choices, but there is the taxpayer here too who has put millions of dollars into that building and their voice is not being heard," Moore said.

Channel 9 learned there are more failing charter schools than failing traditional public schools and there are no failing schools in Brevard, Marion, Seminole and Osceola counties.

Volusia County has two failing charter schools, and Orange County has three failing charter schools and one failing traditional public school.