Somerset kindergartners in Coral Gables in limbo for next school year
A month into the school year, when Somerset Academy Gables called to say a coveted seat had opened up, Jorge Guerra pulled his 5-year-old son George out of South Miami K-8 Center and placed him in the charter school’s kindergarten campus.
At the time, the invitation seemed like a blessing. Now, he’s not so sure.
Several weeks ago, Guerra and dozens of other parents learned that the church off Bird Road where their kids attend class had declined to renew the Somerset’s lease, creating a looming enrollment crunch at its main campus about a mile away at Christ Journey Church. The result: George and 65 young classmates are in a sort of limbo, waiting to see where their classes will be housed next year, or if they’ll need to scramble to find a new school.
“We were promised the moon and the stars to get him into that spot,” said Guerra, a financial advisor who commutes to downtown Coral Gables. “And we’re talking about in a span of a couple of months they’re like ‘Oops?’ ”
Somerset Academy board chairwoman Andreina Figueroa says the problem is unprecedented in Somerset’s 15-year, 42-school history. The school, under the management of Academica, is working quickly to address it by locating a new Coral Gables location and will meet with parents Friday in Doral.
But critics of Florida’s charter school regulations say the parents’ plight is an example of flaws in how charter schools are regulated.
“The bigger concern is not what Academica is doing, per se, it’s the fact that the statutes provide no guidance as to what’s occurring,” said Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado, who represents the Coral Gables area and has been contacted by frustrated parents. “This couldn’t happen in a traditional public school. There would be recourse.”