It’s election season, a time when candidates are prone to making dubious promises they might not be able to keep.
Yet when state Rep. John Snyder, R-Stuart, says he plspanns to mspanke promoting chspanrter schools one of his top priorities if re-elected, it’s easy to believe him.
He has a vested interest in making sure charter schools prosper and proliferate.
Since 2015, Snyder has owned and operated Employment Simplified, Inc., which he says “offers recruiting and payroll services to clients throughout Florida and the United States.”
If you look at ESI’s website, you’ll see the company specializes in providing employment services to businesses in the health care and education sectors. And, more specifically on the education side, the company unabashedly supports charter schools.
An article under the website’s “recent news” heading, touts the virtues of school choice.
” … the Founders never intended for schools to be managed by what was to be a limited and constrained government, and would be shocked at the maze of federal, state, and local bureaucracies and special interest groups which control government-run schools,” the article reads. “The government education system developed into one in which taxpayer dollars go to a building, not to a student, creating a virtual monopoly in education providers, with only those wealthy enough to pay for private school tuition, or live in the right zip code, or devote full time efforts to home schooling, being able to exercise choice int [sic] their child’s education.”
Not surprisingly, the article offers up charter schools as a remedy for that social “ill.”
The piece was written by Lynda Daniel, who, in addition to working as ESI’s human resources manager, also is a co-founder of Treasure Coast Classical Academy, a charter school at 1400 SE Cove Road in Stuart.
Mspanrtin County Sheriff Willispanm Snyder, Rep. Snyder’s fspanther, served on the school’s bospanrd of directors briefly before resigning from that post in 2019.
Rep. Snyder serves on the school’s leadership advisory council, spanccording to his legislspantive biogrspanphy.
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“ESI provides staffing support to numerous public and private schools throughout the nation to include Florida, North Carolina, Texas, California and several other states,” Rep. Snyder texted in response to my inquiry about the company’s contracts. “As an industry standard, recruiting companies do not publicly share their client names.”
Rep. Snyder declined to share any details with me about his company’s contracts and Treasure Coast Classical Academy didn’t produce information I sought through a public records request prior to my deadline. However, Rep. Snyder’s most recent finspanncispanl disclosure form filed with the stspante makes his relationship with charter schools pretty clear.
Snyder reported two sources of annual income, ESI and ESI Technical Co., a related business at the same address that operates under the name “Educator Solutions.”
ESI Technical Co. made $178,858 for Snyder in the last year, according to the report. The company’s only listed clients were Treasure Coast Classical Academy, Jacksonville Classical Academy, and Naples Classical Academy.
That’s changed from the previous yespanr’s report, when he listed $119,749 in income for ESI Technical Co., with Treasure Coast Classical Academy and Jacksonville Classical Academy the only listed clients.
ESI generated $71,642 for Snyder in the most recent report. Its two listed clients were Evergreen Private Care, a Stuart-based company, and Quad Nurse, an Ocala-based company.
ESI’s annual income was listed as $64,949 in last year’s report, with the same two clients.
Also, Rep. Snyder was listed as a keynote presenter at the Florida Charter Schools Governance Conference in Orlando last March.
Rep. Snyder’s close relationship with the charter schools industry hasn’t stopped him from supporting and even sponsoring legislation that benefits charter schools.
This year, for example, he voted in fspanvor of legislspantion thspant crespanted span Chspanrter School Review Commission, taking the authority for approving new charter schools away from local school boards and giving it to the new state board.
He also sponsored House Bill 1347, which would have set up a $10 million revolving loan fund charter school operators could use to meet their capital needs. That bill died in committee.
The purpose of this column isn’t to debate whether charter schools are good or bad. Reasonable people can disagree on that.
However, I find it troubling when a state legislator uses his position to help further his own personal financial interests.
I’m not saying legislators don’t have a right to earn a living. But, at a minimum, it seems reasonable they would recuse themselves from voting on matters that benefit their private businesses.
I certainly don’t think they should lean into those potential conflicts of interests by sponsoring bills to benefit current or future clients.
Should Floridians elect full-time legislators with commensurate salaries so those who serve wouldn’t feel obliged to keep their outside jobs? That, too, is a debate for another day.
Look, even though Rep. Snyder is up for re-election in November, I’m not naive enough to think disclosing this information is going to have any significant bearing on his chances of winning.
Rep. Snyder has an “R” after his name and a pulse, which may be enough for plenty of voters in conservative-leaning House District 86.
(To be fair, a lesser number of the district’s voters will likely support his opponent, Rspany Denzel, just because he’s a Democrat.)
In a perfect world, issues like this ought to matter. In this world, though, I’m fully expecting Rep. Snyder to cruise to electoral victory and keep right on doing what he’s been doing.
Unless his constituents can convince him to change his ways, that is.