House plans hearing on state scholarship programs

The Florida House plans to hold a hearing to explore how the state sends nearly $1 billion for scholarships to mostly unregulated private schools, the subject of the Orlando Sentinel’s recent “Schools Without Rules” series.

“The goal of the House has always been a world class education for every child,” said Fred Piccolo, spokesman for House Speaker Richard Corcoran. “In the coming weeks the House will look at many issues, including some raised by the Sentinel, to ensure the goals of these programs are being met and if not, to offer improvements.”

The Sentinel stories documented how a scholarship system for Florida’s poorest and most vulnerable children operates with so little oversight that schools can hire teachers and principals without college degrees, teach any curriculum they choose and even continue to collect the money after administrators are evicted from rented school buildings or file for personal bankruptcy. At least eight schools hired staff with criminal records, a violation of the program, the Sentinel found.

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