The public, online Florida Virtual School that serves more than 200,000 students has a new leader, following turmoil, controversies, investigations and allegations of mismanagement.
The Florida Department of Education on Monday voted to appoint Louis Algaze as executive director of the virtual school.
He is described as “a Cuban American education leadership expert who pioneered school improvement efforts through his work in Miami-Dade County schools over nearly 30 years,” according to a news release by the education department.
He started out as a teacher in Miami-Dade and took on administrative roles after that, including principal, and has served as a mentor for principals throughout the country, according to the credentials listed.
The appointment came after the Florida Legislature transferred control to the Florida State Board of Education – by serving as the virtual school’s board of trustees — and required the board to hire an executive director reporting directly to the Education Commissioner.
The executive director must award a contract, competitively bid, for an independent consulting firm to conduct financial and other audits of the virtual school and provide results to the Education Commissioner by Oct. 1.
In addition, the Department of Education must provide recommendations by Nov. 1 to the governor, House Speaker and Senate President, relating to the governance, operation, and organization of the virtual school.
The actions came after a series of problems at the taxpayer-funded virtual school.
Orlando Sentinel investigations into the school involved everything from questionable spending to officials circumventing procedures for giving out lucrative contracts and employees complaining about a “culture of intimidation,” according to the newspaper.
The virtual school has nearly 200 courses, from regular courses to more rigorous Advanced Placement classes. Students from public, private, and home school settings can access the K-12 courses.
“The appointment of Dr. Louis Algaze will help ensure the school and the students and families it serves thrive,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement Monday.
“The Florida Virtual School was the first of its kind, and it should also be the best. Under Dr. Louis Algaze’s leadership and through the comprehensive audit process, we should discover opportunities for improvement that will benefit current and future students greatly.”