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School board won't rescind charter resolution

COVINGTON --The Newton County Board of Education didn't rescind its resolution opposing the proposed constitutional amendment supporting state-approved charter schools.

School board Vice Chair Jeff Meadors, who was the only board member to oppose the resolution last month, saying he didn't want to tell residents how to vote, asked for guidance regarding the resolution during the board's monthly work session Tuesday.

Earlier this month and after the board met in September to pass the resolution, state Attorney General Sam Olens sent state Superintendent of Schools John Barge a letter concerning the use of public resources regarding the vote -- it's not allowed by law.

Earlier this week, Atlanta attorney Glenn Delk represented five Georgia residents who filed the suit in Fulton County Superior Court, accusing the state's 180 local school districts of using funds to campaign against the amendment that would put more control of charter schools in the state's hands.

Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews reported Tuesday to the board that school board attorney Kent Campbell has recommended for the system to take the resolution off its website, where it was placed after the board approved it.

But, Mathews added, Campbell advised that the board did not have to rescind its resolution.

The Atlanta lawsuit unraveled Wednesday in a Fulton County courtroom.

In an initial hearing, Atlanta Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob declined to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the Fulton County system from publishing information about the referendum on its website. She declined to rule on anything concerning Gwinnett County, telling the plaintiffs to take up their complaint in a Gwinnett court, where a second lawsuit has already been filed by different plaintiffs.

Shoob added that a website is already paid for, as is the salary of any public official or employee who might express a public opinion on the matter. Delk argued that both instances "still involve an official government resource."

The Fulton cases could still go to trial, but Shoob's decision on an injunction, and her aggressive questioning of Delk before she ruled, suggests a high bar for proving that public officials have acted inappropriately.

The ballot measure would allow the state to create a new commission that could grant charters to independent school operators. That power now rests with local school boards, with appeals to the state Board of Education. The proposed system essentially would let local applicants who are denied choose which of the two state panels hears an appeal. Applicants for a charter school with no local attendance boundaries, meanwhile, could apply directly to the new board, bypassing local authorities.

Proponents of the ballot measure, including Gov. Nathan Deal, say establishing another avenue for charter schools would expand educational options for Georgia families and their children. Opponents, led by Barge, contend that it duplicates the state school board's existing power and could siphon money away from local schools that already face tight budgets.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Comments

henrystamm 1 year, 6 months ago

Well what you expect from people that do not care for our children but only care that they are allowed to waste our hard earned tax money. Competition is always successful, dictatorship will always fail after irreparable damage is done.

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Newtownqq 1 year, 6 months ago

Henrystamm I agree with you on this!! Why would they not rescind the resolution? We can't afford a legal battle in NCSS, we just got over one!! Its a power grab by Johnson and his thugs!

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