As Palm Beach County School Board meets this week they will be entertaining the owners of a for-profit charter school, looking for the approval for three new high schools. And in toe they will have Frank Biden, brother of the vice president, writes Lisa Rab at the Broward Palm Beach New Times.
Frank Biden is president and director of development for Mavericks in Education Florida, and for the past two years he's been flying around the state talking to local school boards, lobbying for the Mavericks High charters.
"I'm a salesman. I'm nothing but a P.T. Barnum for these kids," he says.
Biden got involved with Mavericks two years ago after meeting restaurant developer Mark Rodberg who was about to found, with other partners in 2007, the chain of Mavericks High, D. Wade's Schools. Mavericks currently have eight high schools in Florida, including five in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.
The schools focus on at-risk kids by implementing shorter days and three hours a day studying online at their own pace, under the supervision of teachers. While the schools are overseen by their local schools boards, the for-profit Mavericks in Education Florida has a management contract to run daily operations.
Despite their own proclamations, Mavericks schools have scored "incomplete" on Florida's state report cards because not enough students have taken the FCAT while enrolled there.
And two former Mavericks teachers filed whistleblower lawsuits against Mavericks High of South Miami-Dade this year, alleging, among other complaints, that the school is not offering Florida high school diplomas. But Biden attests that not every student graduates.
Charter schools are a booming business in Florida, where more than 400 publicly funded, privately run schools have opened since 1996, and 348 more have applied to open next year.
As Orange County's School Board approved a new Mavericks school this month, Palm Beach district officials have recommended that the School Board approve the three new Mavericks schools.