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Richard Corcoran calls for removal of charter school head

Manatee County School District, Lincoln Memorial Academy have been at odds.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran says the head of a Manatee County charter school must step down.

While Corcoran remains an enthusiastic supporter of school choice, he said greater oversight must step in at Lincoln Memorial Academy.

This comes months after an administrative law judge recommended to the state’s Education Practices Commission that it should temporarily revoke the certification of Eddie Hundley — the school’s principal — for five years, followed by five years of probation.

But Corcoran’s weighing in means it’s no longer just a struggle between a local school board and a charter school.

“It is unacceptable that Mr. Hundley continues to be employed as an educator. I wholeheartedly support action by the district to rectify this situation by making every effort to have Mr. Hundley relieved of all responsibilities with Lincoln Memorial Academy,” Corcoran wrote.

That’s no surprise to Scott Hopes, a Manatee School Board member. Like Corcoran, Hopes counts himself as a major supporter of the charter school and school choice movement.

But he said any principal at a traditional public school would have been suspended based on a recommendation to have certification revoked.

The issues surrounding Hundley stem from his handling of a teacher accused of inappropriate contact with students.

Instructor Quentin Peterson left Lincoln amid accusations of misconduct. But he applied for a job in the neighboring Sarasota County school district and got a job with Hundley’s recommendation.

Then he was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, according to the Bradenton Herald.

While the state has taken action to revoke Hundley’s credentials over his handling of Peterson, the governing board at the charter school has not removed him from his position.

Video of a town hall meeting at Lincoln shows Hundley defiantly saying the district should stay out of employment decisions at the charter school.

“If Manatee County Schools is interested in the best thing for these kids, they should find out what that is from the people who voted and take care of those kids,” Hundley said at the meeting. “That’s what they need to do, and that is exclusive of me.”

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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