Feb 8, 2024 - News

Parents push to nullify Miami's land deal with Centners

Hot pink shirts that have Public Land for Public Schools written across the front.

Parents are gathering today to support an effort to terminate a 2022 land deal. Photo: Public Land for Public Schools

A contingent of parents plan to show their support today for an effort to terminate a 2022 land deal between the city of Miami and a private school that they say was made unlawfully and has unfairly privatized public land.

  • City commissioners are scheduled to take up the issue at Thursday's 9am meeting, though it was deferred at a previous meeting and could be again.

Catch up fast: In 2022, the city agreed to let David and Leila Centner, operators of private school Centner Academy, build an indoor athletic facility on one of the city's largest undeveloped plots of land.

  • The same plot had been eyed by Miami-Dade County Public Schools as the potential site to move iPrep Academy and build workforce housing for teachers and a park for public school students.
  • That plan was scrapped when the city's deal was made.

Former Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla was arrested in November, with authorities alleging he accepted tens of thousands of dollars from the Centners in exchange for permission to build the sports complex.

  • The Centners have not been charged.

Driving the news: This is the second time the push to terminate the deal — proposed by newly elected Commissioner Miguel Angel Gabela, who ran an anti-corruption campaign and defeated Díaz de la Portilla — is coming before the commission.

  • Last month, allies of the deal, who, according to the Miami Herald, were mostly parents of Centner Academy, urged the commission to dismiss the effort.
  • Gabela deferred the vote, saying he did not have enough votes from other commissioners.

The other side: A group of iPrep Academy parents launched a website, Public Land for Public Schools, and an online petition to show support for nullifying the land deal.

  • On Wednesday afternoon, the petition had more than 900 signatures.
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