In a clash of titans, seven school systems – Gwinnett, Bulloch, Candler, DeKalb, Griffin-Spalding, Henry and Atlanta – and the state of Georgia are awaiting the state high court ruling on the charter school case. The systems want the state’s sweeping 2008 charter school law deemed unconstitutional.
The AJC has a long piece updating the 2-year-old charter school case before the state Supreme Court for which a ruling is expected in the next 10 days.
The case features legal heavyweights, including Mike Bowers for Gwinnett schools and Thomas Cox for APS. The attorney general is arguing for the state, but has brought in powerhouse litigator Bruce Brown as well.
(Am I the only one who finds it odd that at the same time former AG Bowers is suing the state on behalf of Gwinnett schools, he is representing the state in the governor’s probe of APS cheating?)
(The high court has waited to the bitter end to release its ruling. I am not sure if that means the justices had a tough time coming to a ruling or just a lot going on.)
Here is my original post on the actual court hearing in October, where the pressure seemed to be on the state and its contention that its Charter Schools Commission was legal and met constitutional muster.
Before the General Assembly passed its charter school law, school boards had most of the power to veto or approve charter schools, but lawmakers felt that the school boards were turning down strong applicants to protect their own turf. The new law not only created a commission that could approve charters, it could also redirect monies so that the schools receive local funding despite the opposition of the local board.
Here are the chief points of contention:
Does the state constitution give the state the right to create charter schools over the objection of local boards of education? The state is pinning its arguments on a broad definition of state-sponsored “special schools,” which are permitted in the Georgia constitution but have historically been limited to the state-run schools for the blind and deaf. The state is now arguing for a broader definition of “special.” State lawyers want the high court to accept the dictionary definition of special as “unique,” meaning the state can open virtually any sort of school it wants.
Any bets on the court’s ruling?
– From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog