The Manatee County School District could transform Harllee Middle School from an F-rated school to a school for the gifted.. This metamorphosis itself is not unusual, as schools all over Florida play the accountability game by dispersing students from failing schools to other schools to make it appear that under-performing students are being served.
The big question here is where is the needs assessment from the school district planning director that produces data about the viability of a school for the gifted?
Has a parent survey been done to support that parents from high-performing schools like Mills Elementary in Parrish, or Nolan Middle and McNeal Elementary in eastern Manatee County or Anna Maria Elementary on the island want their children to ride a bus two hours each day to attend this proposed school?
The majority of parents are probably very satisfied with programs at their current schools, located within a few minutes of their homes. If they are unhappy with their high-performing neighborhood schools, they can choose to enroll their children at A-rated State College of Florida School or in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. What motivation would there be for them to enroll their children at a transformed Harllee?
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If school principals were asked for input, it might be discovered that each school has a dozen or so students who daily disrupt the learning experience of hundreds of others. These out-of-control students unacceptably defy all authority and rob the other children of precious learning time.
Some were born to drug-addicted parents, are mentally disturbed and on heavy medication, or are so wounded by their upbringing that they require intensive rehabilitation. Data might actually support turning Harllee into a behavioral center staffed with counselors and therapists to address these students’ needs and provide relief to all Manatee County schools.