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Florida to Examine Whether Alternative Charter Schools Underreport Dropouts

Florida’s Department of Education is expanding an inquiry into how schools classify students who leave without graduating, in response to a ProPublica report that the state may have thousands more dropouts than it acknowledges.

Also in reaction to the ProPublica article, the school board chairman in Orlando is asking the district superintendent for a formal report regarding concerns that low-achieving students have been pressured to transfer from traditional to alternative high schools.

It’s “one allegation we take very, very seriously,” chairman Bill Sublette said. “If that’s going on, that’s intolerable. … That cannot happen.”

Fifteen students at schools run by for-profit Accelerated Learning Solutions (ALS) in Orlando’s district said that, because of their academic performance, they had been denied admission to regular public high schools or told they had to transfer from them to alternative programs, according to our Feb. 21 article, which was co-published by USA Today. Some were pulled from class for surprise assemblies where ALS representatives gave a pitch to attend their schools.