Still waiting for state Supreme Court ruling on fate of charters

Still awaiting the state Supreme Court ruling, which the AJC had expected Monday.

In the meantime, the AJC has a piece on the potential impact of the ruling on state-approved charter schools. It is the funding of these charter schools — not those approved by local boards of education — that sparked the lawsuit by seven metro districts.

Charter schools are awaiting a state Supreme Court opinion this week that will decide whether they are allowed to continue operating. The schools are standing their ground and beginning to make back-up plans so they can keep educating students in their care.

Mark Peevy, executive director of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, said he has been in talks with state officials and school operators about what to expect if the legal battle over local control of public education dissolves the commission. The state commission is facing a constitutional challenge filed by seven metro Atlanta school districts who say it illegally approves and funds charter schools.

The commission has approved 17 schools — nine of which serve students and anticipate a combined enrollment of more than 15,000 students in the fall.

“All of them understand the situation,” Peevy said. “If there is a result that negatively impacts the commission, I expect to have some very expedient conversations about what state legislators might be able to do.”

The constitutional challenge, which was launched in 2009, is the first in the nation against an alternate authorizer of charter schools that could leave students in limbo if it were struck down.

The court could uphold the 2010 Fulton County Superior Court ruling supporting the commission or rule against it, disbanding the board. The court could suggest accommodations for students if it rules the commission lacks constitutional authority.

Herb Garrett, executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, said the schools should have never been approved and funded “without involving the local school board.”

Commission charter schools are fully funded like other public schools with federal, state and a matching share of local education dollars carved from the state allocations of the districts students leave

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

11 comments Add your comment


March 29th, 2011
11:25 am

Apparently the Supreme Court Justices don’t see the case being as clear-cut as Judge Shoob did, considering how long this ruling has taken. My guess is it’s going to be a 4-3 decision either way. So, we wait to see if the ‘baby’ that gets divided is the education system or the student.

Altanta Charter Mom

March 29th, 2011
12:07 pm

I find it very interesting that the charter schools are the ones planning for the worst case for their students while the local school boards and their administrators could care less about making sure the students have a place to land. The failing schools they offer are apparently okay.

March 29th, 2011
12:17 pm

Interesting. Where will these students go if the schools lose funding?

Are You Kidding Me?

March 29th, 2011
1:10 pm

If the court decides to support the public schools, the charter schools will not lose all of their funding. They will still receive what the state of Georgia could always give state-sponsored charter schools. The commission would not have to disband either. Where did people get these ideas? Read the suit and stop making stuff up…

Ivy Prep Dad

March 29th, 2011
1:10 pm

Highly motivated students and (parents) will attain a quality education regardless of the state Supreme Court ruling. If Frederick Douglass could attain the accomplishments he has starting from virtually nothing, surely with all due respect, our children of today can achieve similar with the resouces availible. (jmho) Our family makes no excuses when it comes to education!

honeyfern: We have applied for Chamble Magnet as our first choice, and Arabia Mountain Magnet as our second choice regardless of the state Supreme Court ruling.


March 29th, 2011
1:40 pm

Commission approved virtual charter schools are NOT fully funded like their brick and mortar counterparts. The Commission suggested a level of funding at $5,800 per student while the Legislature suggested funding virtuals at only $5,200. Both amounts are considerably more than the current level of funding virtual charters are receiving, but it is important to note that even under the Charter Commission, virtual students still receive a smaller share.
The state’s only K-8 virtual school has made AYP the previous two years and student achievement continues to improve. The students have been able to achieve these results with a fraction of the dollars spend on their brick and mortar peers.

Larry Major

March 29th, 2011
2:21 pm

This is the second AJC article that mentioned problems with placing these kids if the Commission Schools lose their charters.

What is the issue?

just watching

March 29th, 2011
4:43 pm

@Larry….guessing here…

Many of the students at some of these charter schools come from a fairly small geographic areas around the charter. Imagine local schools having to absorb 2 or 3 classrooms each of 1st, 2nd and 3rd, or whatever graders at this point in the year, or even next fall if the charter closes. Many schools are already pushing the limits with class sizes due to budget cuts.


March 29th, 2011
11:24 pm

The decision could go several ways — the Commission and schools could be constitutional but the funding not, the Schools could be unconstitutional and they don’t comment on an alternate authorized or the funding mechanism, the whole thing unconstitutional etc. Have to agree this will be a close, split decision.

If the schools must close, the parents have the same choice as all others — their attendance zone school if there is one, any other choices available to them under several statutes and board policies, homeschooling, private schools.

@Atlanta Charter Mom the district schools are accustomed to being open to all. If they were talking about bringing those students in they would probably be accused of arrogantly assuming they would win, presuming parents would choose a district school, and salivating over the money.


March 30th, 2011
9:54 am

The fate of the Commission hinges on the ruling. It is hard to imagine the funding mechanism being declared unconstitutional, since the attorney for APS admitted in open court that no local funds are actually, physically taken by the state and delivered to these charters. Mr. Bowers’ late-breaking “look what I found” issue regarding the legislative intent of the word “special” in the Constitution is worrisome, as is the delay in the ruling being issued, given the supercharged politics surrounding this issue. If the ruling goes against the state, there is no other way to look at it: this is about money and not kids. The kids in these schools are excelling, which I would hope would be the point.

No Commission Needed

March 30th, 2011
12:00 pm

All tax dollars are local unless someone can tell me what money tree they get the funding for these forced commission schools.