Schoolhouse Knocks

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Hers is an assessment shared by other South Florida educators. “Just going around talking to people, I don't hear anything good,” says one source involved in charter schools.

The biggest problem, according to this source: “They hired a social studies teacher to run the school. In my opinion you can't do that.” The amount of management training it takes to run any school is significant, the source says, and the challenges are even greater with the freedom allowed at charter schools. The source asserts Katrina Wilson-Davis has not been equal to the challenge. “Her attitude has been a turnoff to the district,” the source says. “She's treated them as if they were the enemy.”

This same person also claims Jeb Bush once declared that politically he had to hire Wilson-Davis as a favor to then-board member Frederica Wilson.

Alicia Banuchi confirms that Wilson-Davis often would speak to Frederica Wilson on the phone at the school. “They're friends,” Banuchi says of the pair. “Frederica offered her a job in her [state House of Representatives] office when she went over to Tallahassee.”

Patrick Snay, principal of Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School in Hollywood, was once Katrina Wilson-Davis's boss when he was principal of Miami Killian Senior High. He says he advised her to take the Liberty City job when it first became available. If she asked him now, he says, he would advise her to resign.

“Jeb Bush started that school off with a bang to show he was behind education, but now he's gone,” Snay comments. “It was kind of set up for early success, then abandonment, and then failure. I feel like they've used a whole community, and they've used Katrina also. She's one of the finest teachers I've ever encountered. If I were her, I'd go back into the school system.”

The principal of Liberty City Charter School isn't going to take Snay's advice this time. “Everybody quits on these kids,” she says, her voice quivering for a moment. “When we started this school, we didn't start it because we knew it would be easy. I knew it was going to take a serious commitment to see it through.... I'm proud of the achievements we've had.

“I'm committed to these families now,” she says. “I'm not ready to quit.”

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Ted B. Kissell
Contact: Ted B. Kissell