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Charter School in Miami Fails, but Proves Useful on Jeb Bush’s Résumé

MIAMI — “That’s where the classrooms were,” said Katrina Wilson-Davis, pointing at the deserted building that housed the school where she was once principal. She climbed the chipped stairs that children used to race down at recess in their cherry-red school uniforms and walked past a street sign that still warns drivers of a 15-mile-an-hour speed limit on school days.

Those days are over. Now trash and fronds from the palm trees that students planted litter the grounds, and cafeteria tables are folded away in a dark doorway. Jeb Bush’s charter school is a ruin baking in the Miami sun.

Co-founded in 1996 by Mr. Bush with what he called in an email a “powerful sense of pride and joy,” Liberty City Charter School was the first school of its kind in Florida and a pioneer in a booming industry and national movement. It became an image-softening vehicle for Mr. Bush’s political comeback, though the school’s road was anything but smooth.