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Leaders Of Hialeah Gardens Charter High School Vote To Close Mid-Year

Jessica Bakeman
A placard faces the front door of LBA Academy, located on the second floor of a shopping plaza in Hialeah Gardens.

The board of an A-rated charter high school in Hialeah Gardens voted unanimously Tuesday to shut down by the end of the month.

The LBA Construction and Business Management Academy will close Nov. 29, a move that requires students to find a new school during the middle of the year.

"We've had dialogue with numerous of the schools in the immediate [vicinity] to see how we can transition expeditiously, student-by-student, to make sure that they are landing in the most appropriate place," said Erick Valderrama, the school's governing board chair, during Tuesday's board meeting on campus in Hialeah Gardens.

Read more: 'A Different Direction': A-Rated Hialeah Charter School Favored By Politicians Set To Close

Students at the school have said they were informed they'll be transferring to a nearby charter school, Mater Academy, which is affiliated with the for-profit education company Academica. A spokesperson the Mater charter school network said a "partnership" is in the works.

Valderrama would not provide more information after the meeting Tuesday, saying he would prefer to answer questions in writing. He did not respond to a list of questions last Friday.

Valderrama is executive director of the Latin Builders Association, a Hispanic-led professional membership organization for the construction industry that opened the business-focused school in 2012. It has enjoyed support from prominent Republican politicians including Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Initially, Miami-Dade County Public Schools managed LBA Academy. But just a few months ago, the school's leaders entered into a new contract with Academica for administrative services.

Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
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