Suwannee Democrat

Suwannee Democrat

November 21, 2013

2 charter schools denied for Suwannee County

Live Oak —

The Suwannee County School Board voted unanimously 5-0 to deny the applications of two proposed charter schools Tuesday night at their regular monthly meeting. 

Dianne Westcott, founder of Achieve High School, and Andrew Lang, founder of North Florida Collegiate High School, turned in their applications by Aug. 1 with anticipation to open their doors for the 2014 school year. However, since their applications were denied, the next step in moving forward is to appeal the board’s decision to the state department of education. Lang has stated he will appeal the board’s decision while Westcott said she is undecided. 

Deb Metheny served as a consultant to the board regarding the charter school’s applications and to guide the charter review committee. Metheny told the board Tuesday night the steps the committee took to determine their recommendation. 

A committee was formed of 13 school and district staff who met to review each section of the application.

“It was a very, very deliberate process. None of the members of the charter review committee took it lightly,” Metheny said. 

Former School District Director of Special Programs Cheryl Mae Brinson addressed the board supporting Achieve High School.

“Achieve High School proposes to serve at-risk students using the state’s exit option program, formerly administered by Dianne Westcott,” Brinson said. “As state records reflect, during her administration (as principal of Suwannee-Hamilton Technical Center), the program had a 90 percent graduation rate. Last year, unfortunately, Suwannee County lost 60 students at Suwannee High School, or $360,000 to home school.”

Brinson noted the exit option program is currently available for students in 37 districts in Florida.

“The district’s unwillingness to provide this program creates an extensive pipeline for dropouts,” she said. “We want to serve these children.”

Westcott stood before the board asking them to consider her proposal for Achieve High School.

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