Duval County Gets Waiver for Failing Schools | Schools

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Duval County Gets Waiver for Failing Schools
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Duval County Gets Waiver for Failing Schools

TAMPA, Fla. -- The state Board of Education has voted to allow Duval County's four failing schools to remain under district control for another year, rather than appointing a third party to manage them.

Several board members expressed reluctance and one said this was one of the most difficult decisions she has made. The vote was 5-1.

Chairperson Kathleen Shanahan expressed her displeasure with progress being made in the four schools, but ultimately voted to give the district a waiver and allow one more year.

Another board member, Roberto Martinez, said he personally wants to visit the four failing schools to see firsthand what is and is not being done.

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals traveled to Tampa for the meeting.

"We are not where we need to be," he said, and several members of the board were critical of the lack of progress being made at Raines, Ribault and Andrew Jackson high schools along with North Shore K-8.

Pratt-Dannals told the state board today that "our Achilles heel is reading."

The conditions of the waiver include mandatory monthly reports by an outside consultant on progress in the schools. The district also is required to have meetings at each school by late August to discuss transfer options with students. 

The state Board of Education has the final say on the direction Duval County must take to address performance in the district's four failing schools. The board is meeting now with a recommendation from the Education Commissioner to give Duval County another year to manage those schools.

On Friday, the district learned from Commissioner John Winn that he would recommend local control. Earlier in the week Winn had recommended that Duval County should not be granted a waiver meaning the district would need to hire outside help to manage the four failing schools.

Factors that played into that decision included a meeting Winn had on Friday with Pratt-Dannals and the superintendent of Miami-Dade schools that are also in a similar situation. Following that meeting which included Gov. Rick Scott the commissioner reversed course.

The decision came a little after noon today. 

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