Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches is a private college preparatory high school in West Palm Beach, Florida. Oxbridge Academy serves grades 9–12. Aimed at academically gifted students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, the school includes perks such as a physical therapist on staff, chef-prepared lunches, equestrian club and a flight simulator.
The school was funded with a $50 million donation from Bill Koch. Koch's goal was to create a school for his own children where academically gifted students of all socioeconomic backgrounds could do hands-on projects and learn by problem solving, a place where students ruled. Oxbridge was opened in under a year on a 45-acre campus that once held a Jewish community center. By 2016 he had spent more than $75 million on the school.
In 2011, Koch hired Robert C. Parsons to lead the school under titles president and chief executive. Parsons had previously been chief financial officer at the United States Naval Academy where he had been previously suspended for financial mismanagement. Parsons compensation package was worth $1 million, with an annual salary of about $600,000 per year.
By 2014, the school added a football team at the request of the student body. Admissions standards were changed for football players, notably an athlete who read at a third-grade level was given a full scholarship. The new head football coach earned more than $200,000 a year. Accusations arose of kickbacks, grade-changing, excessive spending and violations of the rules governing high school sports. In April 2016, Mr. Koch announced that Academic Dean John Klemme would serve as the School's president, placing Mr. Parsons on paid leave pending an investigation of harassment claims.
On May 27, 2016, Koch fired Parsons and declined to renew the contracts of Director of Athletics Craig Sponsky and the football coach Doug Socha; Koch noted that a “power elites group” in the school “ran the asylum.”
Oxbridge Academy is an independent, coeducational high school that offers students the latest educational technologies to problem-solve, create, innovate and collaborate with many of the leading corporate and cultural institutions around the world.
College Placement Success
During the 2017 academic year, a new college counseling staff was hired. A large number of Oxbridge Academy students earned placement in prestigious institutions. Students in the Class of 2018 have been accepted to and enrolled at MIT, Columbia University in the City of New York, Rice University, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell University. Students in the Class of 2017 attended Yale University, Columbia University in the City of New York, Princeton University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, United States Naval Academy, University of Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt University.
Computer Science Program
The Computer Science program at Oxbridge consists of a standard four-year course in Computer Science. Computer Science I consists of studies in Python and basic algorithms. Computer Science II introduces students to programming in Java. CS III explores Java more thoroughly.
On-Campus Tragedy and Anti-Bullying Program
On January 28, 2012, a 16-year-old student with a history of depression committed suicide near the School's campus, with a gun that he brought from home. Oxbridge CEO Bob Parsons confirmed the tragedy in a press release saying "The Medical Examiner’s office has confirmed that a male student apparently took his own life on Monday around 6:00 pm in the parking lot of the property adjacent to the school." He added, "Hospice of Palm Beach County’s specially trained grief counselors have been at the school working in conjunction with our own faculty team. Their focus is to help the entire Oxbridge community handle this tragic loss."
Since this tragedy, the School has taken steps to protect its student body, including instituting a bullying prevention program and offering on-campus counseling for its students. The anti-bullying program has been promoted to students by the School's faculty, staff and coaches. “Oxbridge Academy has a zero tolerance policy for bullying and hazing of any kind,” said Oxbridge head football coach Doug Socha.