TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — The Department of Education has picked a Washington, D.C.-based charter school organization to operate a new tuition-free statewide college preparatory boarding charter school for at-risk youth in Miami.

In partnership with a Miami non-profit called Educate Tomorrow, the SEED school is beginning a major national expansion of its statewide boarding charter schools, with plans to open the Miami school in 2012.

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The SEED Foundation, which runs similar boarding schools in Washington, D.C. and in Maryland, has hired Tia Diaz-Balart, the wife of U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, to be in charge of the SEED School of Miami.

According to the proposed school’s website, SEED Miami will be a five-day-a-week boarding school that runs 180 days of the year with students returning home on weekends and holidays. It will serve students in grades seven through 12 and the first class will have between 30 and 40 students.

The SEED schools were highlighted in the pro-charter school documentary “Waiting for Superman,” and emphasize their ability to give 24 hours of care and attention to the neediest students.

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The decision, posted on the department’s website on Friday, is hardly surprising given the heavy lobbying that Educate Tomorrow and the SEED schools did within the halls of the Capitol to get a bill passed earlier this year that allows the state to establish a statewide boarding charter school paid for by taxpayer dollars.

The SEED school beat out only one other applicant – the Flagler Beach-based Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida’s graduates – for the right to run the boarding school.

The boarding school would house children at risk for academic failure. That is defined in Florida law as a student who comes from a family with combined income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, is in foster care, receives housing assistance, has a parent in prison, or lives with someone that is not his or her parent.

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“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”