KEY WEST

Academica hires another principal

skinney@keynoter.comJuly 6, 2013 

Small start-up public charter school Key West Collegiate Academy's board of directors last week hired Cory Oliver to serve as the Stock-Island alternative high school's seventh principal since August 2011.

He's relocating from a job serving as teacher and administrator at Somerset Academy in Broward County. Charter school management company Academica runs Somerset, Collegiate and about 60 other schools in South Florida.

Oliver is originally from Hustonville, Ill., and has a bachelor's and master's degrees from Southern Illinois University along with a master's in educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Key West Collegiate enrollment varies between about 40 and 50 students; the school graduated its first seven-member class last month.

"We're very excited," Collegiate board Chairman Todd German told the Keynoter. "I think [Oliver] is going to be excellent for the school."

German explained that Oliver was "screened" and recommended to the board by Academica and that the board conducted an interview before hiring him.

Oliver replaces Chris Plantada, who replaced Marianella Mesa, both from mainland Academica schools.

Just before Christmas last year then-Principal Adri Stewart, 30, shot herself at the Pembroke Gun and Range on Southwest 19th Street in Pembroke Park, a shock to the schools community.

When the school opened in August 2011, Debra Remsen was the principal. Open feuding with the five-member board, which has turned over several times, marked her tenure, which ended with a demand for her resignation.

Ashley Roberts succeeded Remsen -- and resigned not once but twice, citing, as Remsen did before her, micromanagement by parents sitting on the board.

In the aftermath, Academica came into the picture. Founded in 1999, the company operates schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, plus schools in California, Texas, Nevada, Utah and Georgia.

Jennifer Cleaver filled in between Roberts and Stewart.

The company charges $450 per student, but is deferring the fee for Collegiate, for which it has set an enrollment goal of 100 students.

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