Charter schools still answer to county school officials

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NORTH PORT - Imagine School North Port has been an option for Sarasota County parents and students since 2008.  As a charter school, it operates independently from the Sarasota County School District, but does receive public funding, including $8 million this year.

"Our charter is with Sarasota County School District," says Barbara McKeathon, president of the Imagine School North Port school board.  '"That means that we have to abide by the rules and regulations that they set forth for us and we are responsible for spending the funds properly the way they should be spent."

The school's parent company, Imagine Schools, is based in Virginia.

The company operates schools in twelve different states, including eighteen in Florida.

Two schools, Imagine School North Port and Imagine School Palmer Ranch, are contracted in Sarasota County, and take direction from the Sarasota County School District.

"As far as we know it is a good relationship.  We worked with them, they have given us the directive as to how to proceed, because they are helpful in what we need to do and how we need to proceed as a charter," said McKeathon.

Each charter school is run by a governing board, appointed initially by the parent company.

As board members leave, their replacements are decided by sitting board members.

Sarasota School District officials say their job is to make sure that all charter school teachers undergo the necessary background checks and certifications required to teach.

They told ABC 7 by phone Tuesday that at this point, they consider the current dispute an internal matter between Imagine School North Port and Imagine Schools, Inc.