Despite initial pessimism from some charter school advocates, both the Cherokee and Gwinnett boards of education appear open to two charter schools whose futures were jeopardized by a recent Georgia Supreme Court decision.
The high court ruled that a state commission created by the Legislature in 2008 could not approve charter schools over the objections of the local boards. The commission had approved 16 such schools, most of which now must be legitimatized by their local boards to continue to operate. (There are also statewide virtual schools in the mix, and their fate remains unclear.)
The charter schools and the state are asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider its 4-3 vote, but legal experts say that is unlikely. In any case, the affected charters are not taking any chances and are pleading their cases to their local boards.
In the meantime, a newly formed legislative subcommittee meets 10 a.m. Friday at the Capitol — Room 450 — to address the court ruling. The meeting was called by Senate education chairman Fran Millar of DeKalb and is open to the public.
“We are optimistic that proactive steps taken by this committee will help to protect the valuable education we offer our youth in Georgia. By examining short and long-term solutions, we hope to answer the many questions stakeholders have and return confidence to families and students affect by this court decision,” said Millar in a formal statement. “We encourage our constituents, and those involved, to reach out to us with solutions and ideas on how to overcome this unnecessary barrier and determine the best route for excellence in education across Georgia.”
Cherokee appears willing to work with Cherokee Charter Academy, which was due to open in the fall and has to quickly finalize its application to the county board to keep that schedule.
And in a good sign for Ivy Preparatory Academy, Gwinnett schools just sent out this notice:
From Gwinnett County Schools:
Discussion continued today between Gwinnett County Public Schools and representatives of Ivy Preparatory Academy regarding the status of the all-girls charter school for the 2011-2012 school year.
“School district staff met again today with the appropriate people representing Ivy Preparatory Academy to discuss options for allowing the school to continue operations in the upcoming school year. I feel optimistic at this point that we will be able to work out an agreement that will be in the best interest of the students involved,” said CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. He added that he anticipates the two parties will continue to meet as needed to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
The meetings and discussions have focused on Ivy Preparatory Academy’s current charter contract and how it might be amended to a start-up charter school petition to present to the Gwinnett County Board of Education for consideration.
School district staff members present for today’s meeting were Associate Superintendent for School Leadership and Operational Support Dr. Steve Flynt, Director of Program Support Linda Mitchell and Governmental Liaison David McCleskey. Representing Ivy Preparatory Academy were Governing Board Chairman Monica Teasley, Board Vice Chairman Christopher Kunney and legal counsel Judson Turner and Rob Fortson. Ivy Preparatory Academy Head of School Nina Gilbert participated by phone.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog