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Miami lawmaker to head new private college

A Miami-Dade charter school company plans to open a small, private university next year –- and has hired a state lawmaker to run the new institution.

Sen. Anitere Flores will be the president of Doral College, which will be affiliated with Doral Academy, a charter school.

If approved by the state Commission for Independent Education next month, Flores said, Doral College expects to open in January as a four-year university granting degrees in biology, chemistry, English and history. The college has asked to enroll up to 100 students.

"It's a brand-new concept," Flores said of having a charter school affiliated with a higher education institution.

The college, at least at first, will likely largely attract students from Doral Academy, the charter school.

Flores sits on the Florida Senate's K-12 education budget subcommittee that, among other things, sets statewide funding for charter schools.

But Flores, a Miami Republican, said it should not be a conflict for her to serve on the Legislature while also being the university's president.

"I don't think so," she said, because she is not on any higher education committees.

To accept her new post, Flores, a lawyer, quit her job as director of community relations for Florida International University.

Doral College will be a separate entity from Doral Academy, Flores said, though the university will likely be set up next to the high school. Both entities will share the same board of trustees for the nonprofit that currently oversees the school, she said.

Doral College hopes to appear before the state on Sept. 21, though a Florida education department spokeswoman said the college was not yet on the commission's agenda. The agenda is in flux until the end of the month.

Doral Academy is managed by Academica, a for-profit company that manages dozens of charter schools.

Academica has ties to another Miami Republican lawmaker: The company is run by Rep. Erik Fresen's brother-in-law, Fernando Zulueta, and employs Fresen's sister, Maggie.