Mike Klein Online

Georgia Supreme Court Will Hear Charter Schools Case on Tuesday

The Georgia Supreme Court has scheduled one hour on Tuesday afternoon to hear oral arguments in a case that will decide whether the state has the constitutional right to create and fund charter schools.

A 2008 new state law created the Georgia Charter Schools Commission within the state Department of Education.  The Commission approves or denies charter school petitions, and renews or terminates commission charters.  The law also permits the assignment of state education dollars to charter schools.

Charter schools are public schools.  Georgia has 1.65 million public school students.  About 65,000 attend charter schools, but just several hundred attend schools approved by the Commission.

Gwinnett County (168,000 students), DeKalb County (98,000 students), the Atlanta Public Schools System (48,000 students) and four smaller systems sued to overturn the charter schools law.  The seven plaintiffs argue that using state funds to assist state-created charter schools is unconstitutional.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob disagreed in a May decision that upheld the commission.   Shoob wrote the 2008 law “specifies that commission charter schools are to be funded exclusively by State and federal funds.

“Indeed,” Judge Shoob wrote, “there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the commission charter schools in this case have received revenue from bonded indebtedness or local school tax levies, either directly from the Plaintiffs or indirectly from any other source.”

Tony Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, said, “This law ensures public school students attending a charter school approved by the Georgia Charter Schools Commission are funded equitably, through state funds, to traditional public school students.  We feel confident the Georgia Supreme Court will uphold the decision.”

Georgia’s case is similar to others nationwide.  The constitutionality of state-created charter schools was upheld in California, Ohio and Michigan cases, but charter schools lost in a Florida case.   The Supreme Court decision is expected later this fall or early next year.  Tuesday’s hearing begins at 2:00pm.

Mike Klein writes about education as Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

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October 11, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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