A cautionary tale of a charter school run aground: What went wrong?

Somewhere, there’s a cautionary tale in the dissolution of Peachtree Hope Charter School after its inaugural year, but only if we know the  facts of what led the board to abruptly sever its  management and curriculum contract, stranding more than 500 students. (Some children found spots at the new charter school that opens for the first day of classes tomorrow in the Memorial Drive location, the well-respected Ivy Prep. But some students have returned to the DeKalb elementary schools in the Towers cluster.)

Peachtree Hope had opened under the imprimatur of the now defunct state Charter Schools Commission, ruled unconstitutional this year by the state Supreme Court. I was in Peachtree Hope twice this past year and was impressed with the facility in a formerly desolate Memorial Drive shopping center. The principal was young and enthusiastic. All seemed to be humming along nicely.

Peachtree Hope was run by Sabis International Schools Network, a for-profit education management firm that generally has high marks for its other schools. The Minnesota-based Sabis ran the school and provided the curriculum. The company blames a meddling board that inserted itself into the daily workings of the school, which is not its role.

Parents complained that the Peachtree Hope board kept them in the dark until it was too late and they had to scramble to find options for their children. But in a recent AJC op-ed, the chairman of the board defended the break with Sabis.

Lonnie King wrote:

Between June 1 and 14, PHCS examined records at the school and discovered serious mismanagement and fiscal problems with SABIS. It became clear that it was not in the best interests of our students to allow SABIS to operate the school as it had the previous school year.

We sought to negotiate a new agreement with SABIS that would include more accountability and certain policy directives. Failing this objective, the board requested to license the SABIS curriculum, which SABIS also declined.

The Peachtree Hope board notified DeKalb County and submitted a new application to operate the school with existing school staff and a new curriculum. The county staff rejected the application.

Throughout June and July, in the process of exercising its oversight responsibility, the board learned additional disturbing details. Significantly, SABIS: failed to meet the targeted scores on the 2011 CRCT as promised to the state of Georgia; under-reported Title I students, resulting in a loss of federal funds in excess of $1 million; apparently hired a director for the school who lacked a teaching certificate, and state certification to serve as a school principal; paid a black teacher less than a less-experienced white teacher; paid staff $552,000 less than the county’s salary scale for similar positions.

SABIS also failed to institute a student remediation program, failed to obtain competitive bids on procurements over $25,000 and paid out thousands of dollars in expenses without authorization of PHCS board.

Had the PHCS board allowed SABIS to operate as it had in the first year, the outcomes would have been abysmal. To make matters worse, just days before the final deadline for filing a new petition, SABIS demanded that all PHCS board members resign and that five new members be recommended by SABIS. This action, had the PHCS board agreed to it, would have created a “lap-dog” board and likely violated the laws regarding nonprofits.

King’s version of events sparked a rebuttal from Mark Peevy, who was the executive director for the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, the commission that approved Peachtree Hope in the first place.

Peevy wrote:

As the former executive director of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, it is readily apparent to me that the success of any given charter school in Georgia hinges on the capacity of the school’s local board (i.e., the non-profit board that is granted the charter by the authorizer) to oversee the school’s successful operation in the best interest of its students. All decisions a board makes must be made with that priority in mind, and the Board must use the same benchmark as it evaluates the potential consequences of its actions. The Board and its members are the ultimate caretakers of the charter, and their primary responsibility is to ensure the successful operation of the school for the sake of its enrolled students.

With that in mind, I was disheartened to follow the fate of Peachtree Hope Charter School in its attempt to find an alternate authorizer in the wake of the Ga Supreme Court’s ruling against the Commission (partially described in the recent op-ed by Lonnie King, the former board chairman of Peachtree Hope Charter School, “Charter school’s board had no choice,” AJC op-ed August 16th).

In an attempt to deflect criticism over the school’s untimely, and completely preventable closing, he makes a series of claims that were never substantiated to the school’s authorizer and maligns a company he (and by extension the PHCS Board) called the “greatest education management company in the world” just six months earlier during the school’s inaugural ceremony.

As its authorizer, we at the Commission closely monitored the actions of PHCS and its board during its inaugural year of operation. We saw a successful school that was operating smoothly and on its way to a very good start, and we fully believed it would continue its success if allowed to remain open. We had no doubts in the ability of SABIS as a management company to continue to manage the school successfully. The various claims against SABIS made by Mr. King were never presented to the Commission as its authorizing entity, and to my knowledge they were never substantiated as part of the PHCS new charter application to either DeKalb County or the State Board of Education. If there is any truth at all to the allegations, it was the PHCS Board’s responsibility to have monitored its management company throughout the school year and bring any issues to light as soon as they arose. The board’s inaction on these issues (if they truly existed) certainly created cause for concern over their continued capacity to oversee the school..

As Mr. King states in his Op-Ed, the PHCS Board applied for a local charter on 1 June 2011 from DeKalb County School System with SABIS as its management company, and the charter was subsequently approved by DCSS. The PHCS Board then “changed its mind” a few days later and submitted a new petition to DCSS in which it attempted to introduce a new curriculum and a plan for self-management (neither of which are decisions to be taken lightly and created on a whim). The timing of this decision alone indicates that the PHCS Board was not diligent in its thought process on the initial submission, and it put both DCSS and the State BOE in a position to have serious concerns with the PHCS Board’s capacity to continue to operate the school.

After the recent Supreme Court ruling, all 16 former Commission schools faced the same situation of finding an alternate authorizer. The respective boards of the eight Commission schools that were already in operation had the same options in front of them, and Peachtree Hope Charter School is the only one that is now closed. In the end, the PHCS board did have a choice. Sadly, for the hundreds of DeKalb students and families, the board chose a path of self-inflicted injury that was entirely unnecessary and avoidable, and provided a vivid portrait of the “actions have consequences” dynamic that should be an example for other charter school boards throughout the State.

From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

52 comments Add your comment

catlady

August 30th, 2011
3:02 pm

While I am coming around to the idea of charter schools, I have a very hard time imagining that a for-profit company will have the same goals paramount that a parent-run school would have.

atlmom

August 30th, 2011
3:11 pm

catlady: why is ‘for profit’ a bad thing? do you really think the people who run a ‘regular’ school are not for profit? Not the entity – but the people. The people earn money, they are ‘for profit.’ The people don’t have ‘better’ intentions because they are in a public school.
Parents can’t run the school. They need to hire educators, etc, to run the school. It is a better idea to hire a company to run the school.
I dont’ completely disagree with you – you think the entity that runs a charter school should be a non profit. perhaps. but the parents were hiring the entity and they hired the the one they thought would be best. SO shouldn’t the parents have some say? Shouldn’t they choose the best entity? Rather than what you or I or the government says it he best for their kids?

ITP Mom

August 30th, 2011
3:31 pm

Some charters have a majority of parents on the board and they hire an Executive Director/Principal/Administrator to run the day to day operations of the school. This affords the parents some say but also allows for the hiring of good educators to run the school.

Write Your Board Members

August 30th, 2011
3:49 pm

Maureen,

Many of us feel as though the Charter School division of the state GADOE is failing in its oversight responsibilities. For example, I heard from a DCSS source that many of Peachtree Hope’s Board of Directors were also employees.

Another example, is the huge amount of rent that Leadership Prep Academy is paying New Birth Church. This is a locally approved start up charter school that seems to be being gouged on rent, but there is probably more to it than that. DCSS has multiple empty buildings.

I guess Peevy is arguing that the buck stops with the Board of charter schools and mismanagement is allowed to go on, if no one reports it?

Inman Park Boy

August 30th, 2011
3:52 pm

God forbid we should support an educational model that actually works in an urban setting.

markpeevy

August 30th, 2011
4:36 pm

@ Write…..

My point is that the Board of directors at any given charter school are responsible for their actions. If they allow the school to be mismanaged, then they are putting the school in danger of closing and should not blame others for their actions.

It is the authorizer’s role to ensure that a charter board is managing a school correctly, and we took our oversight role very seriously at the Commission. I believe the charter school division at GADOE does the same. As far as I know, no one from the PHCS Board was employed by the school itself ( We monitored this issue specifically).

Freaks on the Loose!

August 30th, 2011
4:41 pm

I would not want my sons, not even my dog in the same building with Eddie Long. I’d rather take my chances with them being cheated out of an education under Beverly Hall’s btand of perverted leadership.

We need intelligent, ethical people to provide proper oversight.

catlady

August 30th, 2011
4:45 pm

None of the regular public teachers are trying to cut corners to save money (remember, the right says the public system always has its hand out, always has its hand in their pockets). They do not profit if the kids do well, or poorly. Does your dentist get paid extra for a successful root canal? No, it is her/his job to perform the root canal. Teachers take what they are given (in terms of students and materials) and seek to “improve” the student.

Contrast that with a company whose vision may be the kids, but is also clouded by the bottom line. Like an HMO who wants to serve the patients at the lowest possible cost, if an activity or supply appears to be too expensive, a for profit business will attempt to do without.

I agree that parents need to purchase expertise. The parents in my local area, disgusted with decisons made by the local school board, are in the process of attempting to get a charter school going. They would never hire a for-profit company–they believe that they can have a board that will choose wisely its teachers and leadership, staying within the budget. These would be educators who share the vision of this particular area, and there are quite a few who would sign up in a heartbeat.

Active in Cherokee

August 30th, 2011
6:27 pm

It’s funny to see “for-profit education management” and “likely violated the laws regarding non-profits” mentioned in the same breath. This should send up multiple red flags anyway you slice it.

From the creation of the “commission” the ‘oversight’ of the Charters was always an issue for me. The Commission approved sixteen schools that had been previously denied accreditation by the local school board for various reasons. Once the Commission school is opened, the oversight becomes tricky – some of the oversight is placed on a local board that does not agree with the school’s existence, some of the oversight is local at the school which needs to stay in existence to continue making money, and some of the oversight is kept by the Commission itself who often have very little actual contact with the school. This just spells a recipe for disaster. This is not to say none of the Commission schools will utimately show some success, just saying there is a potential for the repeat of this scenario.

People still don't get it

August 30th, 2011
6:45 pm

“Parents were kept in the dark”. Charter schools do not allow the parents or the public to be the ones who make decisions. It is the board and the management (nonprofits or for profits) company that make the decisions, just like in a regular public school. We do not have more of a voice in these Charters. We don’t elect the Board. We can’t remove them. What good is choice without a real voice and even then it doesn’t matter – cuz there is no school board to listen, not that they will listen anyway. I don’t understand why we can’t close the loopholes and ask for more accountability and transparency for our tax dollars. I may not like the local public schools but I don’t dislike them so much that I am willing to overlook the fact that there are serious problems with these Charter Schools. We need to close the loopholes and ask for true accountability to the public for the use of our tax dollars. You can’t even ask for SAC to step in with these Charter Schools. In a report from the Fiscal Research Center at Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University: “An examination of the information provided by these schools in the 2006-07 Annual Report to the State Board of Education published by the Charter Schools Division (CSD) of GDOE reveals that ALL BUT TWO OF THESE SCHOOLS INCORRECTLY REPORTED THEIR FINANCIAL POSITIONS to the State in their annual reports. ” http://aysps.gsu.edu/Rpt_197FIN.pdf

Eric

August 30th, 2011
7:17 pm

It’s time to stop mixing private-public interests in education. Let each do it’s own thing well, and let funding flow accordingly, but not one supporting the other.

Kathy II

August 30th, 2011
7:24 pm

When I read the sentence, “Parents were kept in the dark” must have the whole sentence for interpretaion. “Parents complained that the Peachtree Hope board kept them in the dark until it was too late and they had to scramble to find options for their children”
This reader’s interpretation: Parents were clueless and did NOT realize that the :P HCS could close and then they would have to enroll their kids in another facility.
We have one Public Charter School in this county. It does not do any worse or better than when the school use to be an alternative education setting. The difference being, under the Charter School label the school is held to AYP accountability system like our other public schools.
However, when it was an alternative school? Data of the high stake test scores, graduation rates, and other AYP criteria WERE not collected for that school. All the student’s data was allegedly included in the student’s school they were zoned for. Now, we, the public have accountabilty standards for that alternative school setting, ie the Career Academy (charter school for 10-12 graders) ,

Kathy II

August 30th, 2011
7:37 pm

In Amerca we thrive and do better when there is competition….I notice in our county that on any given friday night a number of folks can be heard predicting the outcome of the “best football team.” Just some friendly competition, we do it in sports, drama, chorus programs, and even football bands. Competition is good and brings out the best in Americans. Now, other than home schooling, private schools, or even the virtual academy….what competition does our public school system actually have? According to the Constitution, public schools and our children’s fate is in the hands of 7 people who are elected every four years. Our children and parents get one year at each grade level to get it right. I just would like to see the public school system have some competition…let’s give all students vouchers, universal vouchers should not scare anyone…especially if public school systems are so confident they are doing their jobs. BTW: I don’t belive the PHCS caused anyone to lose millions in Title I funds….that is the LBOE’s decision as to allocating Title I funds. Title I monies is based on the number of free or reduced lunches and NO charter gets the MONEY off the top. Sounds like the LBOE messed up and looking for a scapegoat.

Dekalbite

August 30th, 2011
7:41 pm

I like the idea of charter schools, but looking for financial information I’m disturbed that so little is available. For example, any citizens can go to open georgia and see the personnel employed by public school systems and their salary and travel compensation. Don’t charter schools get taxpayer dollars? Yet there is no place I can go to see the personnel and compensation of charter schools. What friends and family are employed in DeKalb charter schools? We have a lot of charter schools – and we have a lot of friends and family employed in them.

Kathy II

August 30th, 2011
7:49 pm

@eric: In theory the educational outcomes of any given population will likely influence what is offered in the “private” sector. Bottom Line: if a school system has low graduation rates, high crime, low test scores, high unemployment rate….what do you think that is going to do for economic growth to the private sector…or even the value of one’s home. Education is HUGE business, folks making money off “gauranteed” reading and math programs, assessment tools gaureanteed to gather, assess, and analyze what processes a student must go through for the optimjum outcome. There are companies for supplemental education Services (private and provided by the schools), Public education is a non profit agency, BUT educational processes come from the PRIVATE sector. (processes that compete for tens of BILLIONS of dollars)

Kathy II

August 30th, 2011
7:53 pm

@Dekalbite: we have LOTs of nepotism in our county too…even some nepotism regarding at least one of our LBOE members. However, I can see how NON disclosure of relatives at a charter school is corruption just waiting to manifest itself.

redweather

August 31st, 2011
7:26 am

@ Kathy II: In Amerca we thrive and do better when there is competition.

Agreed. However, we also can’t overlook the fact that people and organizations motivated by financial profit are quite capable of serving their own interests before the interests of their customers. This happens all the time because this conflict (who gets paid first) is endemic to competitive, for-profit economic activity. I’m not saying a for-profit model can’t work, but the business community often fails to inspire trust.

FBT

August 31st, 2011
7:35 am

Well meaning parents don’t make for good school boards. Running a school, even with a hired management company, is very complex and requires skills many involved parents simply don’t possess. The authorizer should hold the board accountable, but by the time they are aware of the problem(s) it’s probably very bad.

msbssy

August 31st, 2011
7:42 am

@Dekalbite, the charter schools in DCSS are conversion charters and still fall under the umbrella of DCSS–not the same as Peachtree Hope. Just as there are bad “regular” public schools, there are bad charters & bad private schools. Check out the charters in Detroit–lots of crappy charter schools run by both non-profit & for-profit organizations.

Good Mother

August 31st, 2011
7:57 am

What’s lacking here in this charter school is the same thing lacking at APS, an honest school board.
We need people with integrity and honesty.

This board is obviously just another band of thieves like Beverly Hall’s.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

August 31st, 2011
8:54 am

Charter school boards are elected; they have terms of office.

  

August 31st, 2011
8:57 am

parent-run government-run school

Vet - POW '68-'71

August 31st, 2011
9:10 am

@ – Good Mother

I agree with Good Mother. We need truly intelligent board members capable of providing proper oversight to prevent incompetent, self-serving thugs such as Beverly Hall and company from ever setting foot in our schools. It pains me to think of the millions of tax dollars being thrown away.

I don’t care whether its charter or public, we need smart, honest people to safeguard the public’s money.

November 6, 2012

August 31st, 2011
10:03 am

Did anyone bother to check out the origins of this school management company? SABIS is a global school network that can trace it’s roots to the International School of Choueifat established in “Lebanon” in 1886. Why are we letting a foreign based company run our schools? Aren’t there any American Owned Companies qualified? C’mon, are we really making the right decisions here? Folks, our TAX DOLLARS were used to support this school…….let’s wake up before it’s too late……where is the outrage here? Gosh, wow, gee whillikers, c’mon, please. Folks, don’t forget to vote on November 6, 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
12:03 pm

The public charter school in our county has a Board of Directors,,,,appointed/chosen by the LBOE.
The chairman of our LBOE manages a store, one is retired military, two are retired educators/administrators, one is a parent/business owner, one is a housewife/works in family business…..The superintendent on the other hand is paid a six figure salary along with five assistant superintendents who also make a six figure salary. The superintendent is the lifelong educator who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and brings ALL things to the LBOE for them to utilize the rubber stamp. Essentially, one person making all the decisions….and the Georgia School Board Association are the centralized power….and rarely do power mongers ever like to “share”.
So, who’s to say in this age of GLOBAL information, that a parent can’t have a couple of college degrees, become the expert for their child’s education, able to read critically and interpret law regarding education? Education is evolving or should be evolving, but the processes of accepting primary stakeholders/parents is NOT happening….

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
12:52 pm

So, is the International School of Choueifat established in “Lebanon” in 1886 somewhat like Catholic. Lutheran, Baptist, or Methodists schools?

Charter schools are PUBLIC schools

August 31st, 2011
12:52 pm

“Peachtree Hope was run by Sabis International Schools Network”

Maureen, please choose your working more carefully when you are describing how charter schools are managed and operated.

The governing board runs a charter school not the management company (if said charter is even using a management company). The governing board has the ultimate responsibility for the school.

In the case of Peachtree Hope Charter School, if the management company “ran” the school then the company would have fired the board rather than the other way around , right?

As for a charter’s governing board make-up, it is usually a combination of appointed members and parent-elected members. The specific make-up and terms of governing board members should be spelled out clearly in the approved charter. Perhaps that would be worth researching and publishing for an article such as this?

Charter school governing board are required to follow the Georgia Open Meetings Act and the Georgia Open Records Act (i.e. have public meetings and provide minutes). If the board is not following those rules, then parents need to demand otherwise. If the board does not comply with parent requests to do so, then parents need to notify the Charter approver (usually the local school board and the state school board).

http://www.georgia.gov/00/article/0,2086,87670814_87670967_88002535,00.html

Don’t wait until things go awry to pay attention to how your charter school is run and how your governing board is elected/selected and operates. Read the Charter and attend governing board meetings.

Maureen Downey

August 31st, 2011
1:02 pm

@charter,
Sabis had the management contract for the day to day operations; I would call that running the school. It is no different than saying a principal runs a school. Does the board of ed provide oversight? Sure. But the day to day management is in the hands of the principal and staff.
Maureen

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
1:07 pm

So, Charter Schools are PUBLIC Schools, is this correct?
Local Board of Education members are ELECTED by the constiuency, outlined and empowered by the Ga. Constitution, AND are the governing body.

Whereas, the Charter School’s Board of Directors is the Management body, members are appointed and/or allegedly elected by parents …similar to SCHOOL Councils that the Georgia School Board Association is trying to control by eliminating some parents at certain schools.

People still don't get it

August 31st, 2011
2:19 pm

These Charter Schools are using everyone’s tax dollars, not just the parents, so we should all have a vote in who is eleceted/appointed to the board. How would you like to pay taxes and not have a vote? Also, many of the private organizations are exempt from several disclosures that public schools are subject to. Google and find that throughout the country there are many issues with these Charter Schools and the taxpaying public is left holding the bag. Also the reporting requirements are NOT the same as the public schools – they have a contract that says what they will do. Taxpayers do not have a say in what goes in those contracts. Face it, we need to ask these Charters to have the same accountability standards if not more to protect the public from losing $1 million or more when one of these schools chooses to get up and leave without givng notice to parents and the public. There are millions of dollars in fraud waste and abuse in Charter Schools around the country. Here is just one of many stories about it. $139 million in just this one article –

Waste, Fraud, and Self-Enrichment In Charter Schools
California Charter Academy a good deal for one family.
Audit: Calif. school misspent millions
By Jennifer Coleman, Associated Press Writer | April 14, 2005
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Operators of California’s biggest charter school system pocketed much of the $139 million the state gave them, spending a fortune on fat salaries for family members, side businesses and overpriced textbooks, according to a state audit issued Thursday.
http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2005/04/waste_fraud_and.html

November 6, 2012

August 31st, 2011
2:47 pm

@Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
12:52 pm
So, is the International School of Choueifat established in “Lebanon” in 1886 somewhat like Catholic. Lutheran, Baptist, or Methodists schools?

The point I was making was “Why was a foreign company chosen instead of an American Company”. Kathy 11, that’s one of the reasons why we have such a high unemployment rate in this country. KATHY, wake up!!!!!!!!!!

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
3:02 pm

Regardless ANY claims, Georgia’s Constitution is the LAW of the land: If, and When folks don’t follow the law, that is ON the constituency. Few, if any, of the rules or laws are regulated. There is not ONE magic potion to create an Educational Utopia and never will be as long as education is about humans. I don’t believe for one minute that the state lost $1 Million because of the charter school because, the school system (BOE) is paid the Title I funds, and then distributes the funds, yes, even to Charter Schools. If anyone lost $1 Million it was the local BOE. The Constitution stands as upheld by the recent Supreme Court Ruling.
“ARTICLE VIII. EDUCATION SECTION V. LOCAL SCHOOL SYSTEMS

Paragraph II. Boards of education. Each school system shall be under the management and control of a board of education, the members of which shall be elected as provided by law….

Paragraph III. School superintendents. There shall be a school superintendent of each system appointed by the board of education who shall be the executive officer of the board of education and shall have such qualifications, powers, and duties as provided by general law
Paragraph VII. Special schools. (a) The General Assembly may provide by law for the creation of special schools in such areas as may require them and may provide for the participation of local boards of education in the establishment of such schools under such terms and conditions as it may provide; but no bonded indebtedness may be incurred nor a school tax levied for the support of special schools without the approval of a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon in each of the systems affected

(b) Nothing contained herein shall be construed to affect the authority of local boards of education or of the state to support and maintain special schools created prior to June 30, 1983…

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
3:07 pm

Seems to me that foreign companies have found their way into all areas and facets of American life. I’ve often wondered why Americans can’t make the little figurines that I find at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Target, Sears, Kohls, Pier I, Macys, Belks, etc….
I think unemployment in this country is unprecendented due to corporate flight to third worlds that work way cheaper than US workers. Even though Georgia is a NON Union state, (unions are blamed a lot for high unemployment), we are a right to work state….we still have a high UNEMPLOYMENT rate, high poverty rate, high drop out rate, and LOW ratings on the national SAT and ACT stage.

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
3:25 pm

BTW: Georgia has had issues with National Rankings in Education ……WAY BEFORE CHarter Schools.

Ed

August 31st, 2011
3:31 pm

“These Charter Schools are using everyone’s tax dollars, not just the parents, so we should all have a vote in who is eleceted/appointed to the board.”

So by that logic, do we all get a vote on who the chair is of Chrysler, since they got tax dollars? Or on what a food stamp recipient buys for dinner? How about Israeli settlement policy–Israel gets a lot of foreign aid dollars–my tax dollars–shouldn’t I have a vote on what they do with that money?

Or do I instead rely on my elected representatives, whom I have the ability to vote in or out, to administer public funds to the bailed-out indistrialist, the food stamp recipient, the foreign aid beneficiary, the board-approved (note I didn’t say approved by unelected state officers) charter school?

People still don't get it

August 31st, 2011
3:33 pm

Kathy II – Hold on now, Once upon a time, I brought up the fact that we once a had a law for education grants that gave EVERYONE choice and parents could take their kids anywhere, including out of state to get the education their child needed and it was repealed in 2005,

http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display.aspx?Legislation=13964

I thought you said you were glad because it allowed money to go out of state. How is money going to Lebanon any different? I suggest we reintroduce this law, modify the money going out of state, which is what many of these Charters are doing.

Wake up people, these Charter Schools are repacked public schools with less accountability and transparency and less voice to all the taxpaying citizens disguised as choice. I don’t understand how anyone can dog the public school for less accountability and be okay with the Charters having even less accountability.

People still don't get it

August 31st, 2011
3:46 pm

@Ed you’re comparing apples to oranges. Are you saying that we can now have a small group of average citizens have a say in education but not other citizens? We all get to vote on our local BOE and these schools do not allow the same opportuntiy, yet use the money. Shouldn’t a community have a vote in what they want or don’t want in their community and how their taxes are spent? or are you suggesting it is okay for only a small group to have that privledge and citizens chosen by the corporation to boot? You may be okay with appointments but I will never voluntarily give up my vote for an appointment. Seems like Georgia is going more and more that way.

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
3:48 pm

You thought wrong on this one…..I clicked on the website and missed what you are tryihng to say. Can you send the law? Thanks.
I drive a Toyota that I bought from a local Georgia Dealer. Now, Toyota is made in the United States and in Japan….is my money going for the car and the processes involved with that vehicle? Or is my money going to Japan? There’s lots of hands in the education till…I’m not sure how one tracks educational funds from the US to Lebanon, but I have no doubt the good Ole USA likely gives Lebanon some type of assistance….

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
3:51 pm

“We all get to vote on our local BOE ”

And according to the State Supreme Court, ONLY BOEs get to grant charters. So, Charters are inadvertently held accountable to the voters, via the LBOE.

Rockerbabe

August 31st, 2011
4:04 pm

So, Ms. Dowd, you are saying that the promised messiah of charter schools is failing the kids? Hum, when oh when are parents going to learn that kids get out of school, what they put into school? And, there is nothing like good parental involvement in a kid’s educations to jumpstart the process and the notion, that education does make a difference in one’s life. It isn’t where you go to school, but what you do with what you have that is important. Same goes for private and religious schools.

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
4:06 pm

Line 14 of the link claiming that ALL parents got choice at one time, as per Ga. Law
“defraying the cost of tuition at a nonsectarian private school LOCATED in any state …..outside THIS state (outside of Georgia) but within some state in the United States.”

Kathy II

August 31st, 2011
4:28 pm

….or perhaps it’s time to realize that learning is influenced by MORE than getting a treat or reward for performance.
There are genetic, chemical, nuerological, biological, and environmental factors that INFLUENCE one’s ability to learn and his or her “predicatble” academic achievement. For anyone to dismiss the factors that directly and indirectly affet cognition is simply lying to themselves. All children are not created ognitively equal and any education process “should” enable that individual student to achieve his or her academic potential. In fact some parents are satisfied if their child gets a GED or lasts until their kid reaches the age of 16 in an education setting. Different groups can value education differently, for many different reasons. I think a parent’s attitude toward the education setting and their child’s teacher is probably not adequately recognized or valued by school systems or LBOEs.

Ed

August 31st, 2011
5:36 pm

@People:
I’ll type this slowly so maybe it will be more clear.

The local BOE that we all get to vote on approves (or not) the charter school. In this way we get the same say over how the individual school is run as we do with other public schools.

The oranges to oranges you are positing would have us all voting on what each principal decides in each school. At some point you have to trust the individual school administration however it is constituted–or elect people to the BOE who will appoint or require a new administration.

People still don't get it

September 1st, 2011
7:24 am

@ Ed – first, you don’t have to be insulting to make a point. W can disagree without being disagreeable. Your typing slowly does nothing for my comprehension. The control now being passed to the loca BOE is a new thing, so you now as well as I do that was not the case. This case now shows what can happen since the change and still the local public school does not appoint, decide or have the right to question who is on the Charter School Board. Like I said – we vote for the local public school board and we don’t for these Charter Schools. It doesn’t matter if the local public school approves the Charter. Obviously, they approved this one and look what the Board did. I do hope this now will bring changes about that aspect of the Charter Schools. Thank you for the conversation : )

People still don't get it

September 1st, 2011
7:33 am

@ Kathy II – I agree. Every child learns differently. I just don’t see why we have to have other schools for that to happen. Why can’t we have that in the public schools and that is really the issue? The schools forget the word “individual”. What I see wrong with these charters is how they try to get around accountability requirements that public schools have and then try to compare themselves to the public schools. For instance one company (Charter Schools USA) has schools that only go through middle school, so they don’t have a drop out rate. I went to a meeting once where they advertised and said ” we have a zero drop out rate”. Well, duh… You can’t compare the Charters to the public because they don’t have the same rules.

People still don't get it

September 1st, 2011
7:50 am

Kathy II – here is what was repealed. Signed by the Governor April 28, 2005, effective July 1 2005. BTW, so we had real choice and many of the people pushing these Charters knew about this law and actually filed against the state using this law, then they turn around and get rid of the law and offer the public a limited version of “choice”. That is what gets me.

This is the link and you can click on open currrent version in new window to get the just the PDF, but this link shows the history : ) http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display.aspx?Legislation=13964
The wording is supposed to be struck out since it was repealed but when you do a cut and paste to the AJC it does not show that the wording was struck out, so the link will show that it is struck out.

05 LC 29 1705S/AP
H. B. 27
- 1 -
House Bill 27 (AS PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE)
By: Representatives Brooks of the 63rd, Coan of the 101st, Keen of the 179th, Richardson of
the 19th, Porter of the 143rd, and others
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT
1 To amend Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to
2 elementary and secondary education, so as to repeal Article 14, relating to education grants;
3 to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
4 BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:
5 SECTION 1.
6 Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to elementary and
7 secondary education, is amended by repealing in its entirety Article 14, relating to education
8 grants, and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
9 “ARTICLE 14
10 20-2-640.
11 The General Assembly, being mindful of the primary obligation of the state to provide an
12 adequate education for the citizens of this state under Article VIII, Section I, Paragraph I
13 of the Constitution of Georgia, and being mindful of the authority vested in the General
14 Assembly under Article VIII, Section VII of the Constitution of Georgia to discharge all
15 obligations of the state to provide an adequate education for its citizens by providing for
16 grants of state, county, or municipal funds to such citizens for educational purposes, and
17 being further particularly mindful of the need for a literate and informed society in all
18 events, declares it to be the purpose and intent of this article to encourage and aid the
19 education of all children of this state by implementing Article VIII, Section VII of the
20 Constitution of Georgia by making provision for payment of education grants from public
21 funds to the extent and in the manner as provided in this article. Reserved.
22 20-2-641.
23 As used in this article, the term:
05 LC 29 1705S/AP
H. B. 27
- 2 -
1 (1) ‘Local school system’ means all county, city, independent, and other public school
2 systems in existence in this state.
3 (2) ‘Parents’ means the natural or adoptive parent or parents, legal guardian, or other
4 person or persons standing in loco parentis to or having legal custody of a child eligible
5 and entitled to receive an education grant under this article, who is actually paying or who
6 will pay the tuition cost of attendance of such child at a school which qualified such child
7 to receive a grant pursuant to this article.
8 20-2-642.
9 Every child between the ages of six and 19 years residing in this state who has not finished
10 or graduated from high school and who is otherwise eligible and qualified to attend the
11 elementary and secondary public schools of the local school system wherein such child
12 resides shall, in lieu of attending the public schools of such local school system, be eligible
13 to receive an education grant to be expended for the purpose of paying or otherwise
14 defraying the cost of tuition at a nonsectarian private school located in any state of the
15 United States or a public school located outside this state but within some other state of the
16 United States, in the amount and manner provided by and subject to this article.
17 20-2-643.
18 The amount of each education grant that may be paid under this article per school year
19 shall not exceed:
20 (1) The actual amount expended or to be expended by parents in payment of the tuition
21 cost of attendance of their child or ward at a school which by the terms of this article
22 qualified such child to receive such grant; or
23 (2) The average state cost per pupil in average daily attendance in the public schools of
24 this state for the school year immediately preceding the school year for which the
25 education grant is to be paid, to be determined by dividing the state-wide average daily
26 attendance figure in the public schools of this state during the preceding school year into
27 the total amount of state education funds allotted to all public school systems of this state
28 for the preceding school year under Article 6 of this chapter excluding state allotments
29 for capital outlay purposes,
30 whichever of the two sums is the lesser. Only one education grant shall be paid on behalf
31 of any school child eligible to receive a grant during any one school-year period as defined
32 by law.
05 LC 29 1705S/AP
H. B. 27
- 3 -
1 20-2-644.
2 No grants shall be paid to any person in any county or municipality of this state unless the
3 need for the payment of such grants in a county or municipality has been determined as
4 provided in this Code section. The county board of education and the governing authority
5 of the county shall meet during the month of April each year to investigate the requests for
6 grants in such county and may meet on the call of the governing authority at any other time
7 to make such determination. In the event it is determined that such need does exist, a
8 resolution to that effect must be passed by the county board and the governing authority
9 at such joint meeting. In the case of a municipal school system, the board of education
10 thereof, the governing authority of the municipality involved, and the governing authority
11 of the county shall meet during the month of April each year to determine whether a need
12 for such grants exists in the municipality and may meet on the call of the governing
13 authority at any other time to make such determination. In the event it is determined that
14 such need does exist, a resolution to that effect must be passed by the local board, the
15 governing authority of the municipality involved, and the governing authority of the county
16 at such joint meeting. If it is determined that a need exists and a resolution to that effect is
17 adopted as provided for in this Code section, applications for grants shall be filed by
18 parents of children eligible to receive grants under this article with the school
19 superintendent of the local public school system where such children are entitled by law
20 to attend the public schools free of any tuition. Applications shall be made in writing in
21 such form, manner, and time and shall contain such information as the State Board of
22 Education shall prescribe. All such applications shall be turned over to the local board of
23 education, reviewed by such board, and approved or disapproved by such board within 30
24 days after the date of filing with the local school superintendent.
25 20-2-645.
26 The State Board of Education shall prescribe reasonable rules and regulations providing
27 for the administration of this article under the State School Superintendent. The state board
28 may also prescribe all forms and reports deemed necessary for implementation of this
29 article. Such rules and regulations shall prescribe the minimum academic standards that
30 must be met by any nonsectarian private school attended by a child in order to entitle such
31 child to an education grant under this article; provided, however, that such minimum
32 academic standards as may be prescribed shall not exceed or be more stringent than the
33 minimum academic standards applicable to the public elementary and secondary schools
34 of this state. Such rules and regulations shall not deal in any manner with the requirements
35 of nonsectarian private schools relating to eligibility of pupils that may be admitted thereto
36 or with the physical plant facilities of any private schools. The Superintendent may require
05 LC 29 1705S/AP
H. B. 27
- 4 -
1 each school to furnish him such information and records as may be deemed necessary to
2 enable him to make a determination as to whether such school shall be eligible under this
3 article. A failure by any school to produce all such information and records as may be
4 requested shall be grounds for the Superintendent to omit the name of such school on the
5 list of schools furnished to the local boards of education as provided in Code Section
6 20-2-646.
7 20-2-646.
8 The local boards of education shall be bound by the list of schools which the State School
9 Superintendent shall furnish. A local board may require an applicant for a grant to furnish
10 such information as may be deemed necessary to enable such local board to pass upon such
11 application. A failure by the applicant to produce all such information and records as may
12 be requested shall be grounds for denying the application without further investigation. In
13 the event any application is denied, the local board shall give written notice thereof by mail
14 to the parents applying therefor. Within ten days after receipt of such notice, the parents
15 may file a written request for hearing with the local board, in which event such a hearing
16 shall be afforded in not less than ten days from the date of receipt of such request. Any
17 parents, school, or institution adversely affected by any final determination made by the
18 local board as provided in this Code section may obtain review thereof by appeal to the
19 State Board of Education, which appeal must be filed in writing not less than 15 days after
20 such final determination. In all other respects, all such appeals to the state board shall be
21 made and determined in accordance with the rules and regulations of the state board
22 governing appeals from local boards of education.
23 20-2-647.
24 School children receiving education grants under this article shall not be considered as
25 being in daily attendance in any local school system of this state for the purpose of
26 allotment and distribution of state funds under Article 6 of this chapter.
27 20-2-648.
28 All grants approved and paid by the local boards of education shall be paid out of existing
29 and available school funds allocated to such local systems by the state for educational
30 purposes and from educational funds derived from local sources. The local system shall
31 receive a refund relative to the amounts paid out in education grants in the amount and
32 under the formula provided for in this Code section. The local board shall share in the cost
33 of the education grant in the same proportion as it shares in the cost of the Adequate
34 Program for Education in Georgia for such local system. The amount arrived at under such
05 LC 29 1705S/AP
H. B. 27
- 5 -
1 formula shall be paid by the Department of Education to the local system at the time and
2 under the procedure prescribed by the State Board of Education. The state board shall
3 include in its estimate of financial requirements to be filed with the Office of Planning and
4 Budget, as required by law, an estimate of the amount of funds which may be needed
5 during the next appropriations period for the purpose of paying the state´s portion of the
6 grants provided for under this article. The General Assembly shall make adequate provision
7 therefor in appropriating funds to the Department of Education. The local school systems
8 may, at their election, utilize local education funds to supplement the amount of state funds
9 and the local funds paid under the formula set out in this Code section. Any such
10 supplemental funds used shall be expended in the amount and under the procedure
11 prescribed by the local board.
12 20-2-649.
13 (a) All local school systems shall have the same power and authority to appropriate and
14 utilize local education funds for the purpose of paying grants as such local systems now or
15 hereafter possess for the purpose of operation of the local public schools.
16 (b) Notwithstanding any provisions of law limiting the power of counties to levy taxes and
17 appropriate funds for use in the county school system for educational purposes or limiting
18 the power of municipalities to levy taxes and appropriate funds for use in independent
19 school systems for educational purposes, and in addition to any powers now granted
20 counties and such municipalities by existing law to levy taxes and appropriate funds for
21 educational purposes, the governing authorities of every county in this state and of every
22 municipality authorized by law to maintain existing independent school systems are
23 authorized by this article pursuant to authority conferred on the General Assembly by
24 Article VIII, Section VII of the Constitution of Georgia to appropriate and expend any
25 available local tax funds of such county or municipality to pay education grants.
26 20-2-650.
27 Any person who shall knowingly make any false statement in writing on any application
28 or form required or authorized under this article or any person who shall obtain, seek to
29 obtain, expend, or seek to expend any education grant funds for any purpose other than in
30 payment of or reimbursement for the costs of attendance of his child or ward at a
31 nonsectarian private school or public school as and for the purposes as provided in this
32 article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
33 SECTION 2.
34 All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

Educator for Life

September 1st, 2011
9:13 am

I am an Assistant Principal (certified, I must add) at a charter school and I just don’t understand why an external company is needed for the school. We use the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) to drive our curriculum. We added other things, but an outside entity was not required. The Principal runs the school and the teachers do their part. Again, why in the world was SABIS needed? The board makes decisions, but the day-to-day lies in the hands of the administration.

Ed

September 1st, 2011
10:51 am

@People–
Mea culpa. End of a long day yesterday and a little too punchy.

I do want to make clear that I’m talking about locally-approved (i.e., by county BOEs and not by unelected state officers–I thought that was wrong and was glad to see it overturned) charters.

I still hold that expecting a vote on how a charter approved by a BOE for whom we voted runs itself is the same as wanting a vote on how each elementary school run by that LOCAL BOE allocates its budget or schedules its school day. At some point representative government needs to rely on the elected representatives and not referenda on every paper clip purchase.

Kathy II

September 1st, 2011
11:29 am

I am still reading that this law was for education grants for students who LEAVE Georgia and go to other states while still being a Georgia Citizen. *not inter or intra district choice”. I’m thinking this might be for millitary families who maintain their state citizenship regardless where they are stationed. (Military folks still pay state taxes and sometimes are not required to renew a drivers license til they get back to their “home state.”) Given all the bases in this state, I don’t think my interpretation is a stretch.
“11 elementary and secondary public schools of the local school system wherein such child
12 resides shall, in lieu of attending the public schools of such local school system, be eligible (13) to receive an education grant to be expended for the purpose of paying or otherwise (14) defraying the cost of tuition at a nonsectarian private school located in any state of the
(15) United States or a public school located outside this state but within some other state

People still don't get it

September 2nd, 2011
12:51 pm

Kathy II – No where does it say that this is only for out of state. It specifically states every child between the ages of six and 19 years residing in this state who has not finished or graduated from high schools and is otherwise eligible and qualified to attend the elementary and secondary public schools of the local school system wherein the child resides shall, in lieu of attending the public schools of such local school system, be eligible to receive an education grant. Also the case filed were local students, not students wanting to go out of state or military families. Read it yourself “8 20-2-642.
9 Every child between the ages of six and 19 years residing in this state who has not finished
10 or graduated from high school and who is otherwise eligible and qualified to attend the
11 elementary and secondary public schools of the local school system wherein such child
12 resides shall, in lieu of attending the public schools of such local school system, be eligible
13 to receive an education grant