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Voters Sue Over 'Misleading' Charter School Ballot Language

The lawsuit alleges that the preamble and the question on the Nov. 6 ballot is biased in favor of approval of the measure.

An East Atlanta church minister and a public school teacher have filed a lawsuit in Fulton Superior Court against members of the state of Georgia government over the language of the Nov. 6 ballot as it pertains to charter schools.

The lawsuit, filed by the Rev. Timothy McDonald, senior pastor at First Iconium Baptist Church in East Atlanta, and Dalton teacher Beverly Hedges, names Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp as co-defendants.

The complaint alleges Gov. Deal used language in the preamble to the ballot question and the ballot question itself that is misleading and that was not passed by the General Assembly.

This is how the ballot language currently appears:

"Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public school options.

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state and local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?"

Do you think the ballot language for Amendment 1 is biased?

“Gov. Deal knows that the truth about what Amendment 1 [the charter school amendment] will do is not popular with Georgia voters, so he wrote a trick question and placed it on Georgia ballots,” said Bryan Long, executive director of Better Georgia in a press release.

“The question voters will see sounds like a miracle solution for fixing Georgia’s troubled school system. It’s not. It’s an open invitation for out-of-state charter school corporations to profit from Georgia tax dollars. It will create a new, costly and unelected state commission with the power to use tax dollars to pick which companies will profit off our students.”

The press release goes on to say that polling has discovered that the current ballot language would shift the vote on Amendment 1 by as much as ten percent.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction on the vote for the amendment, pending rewriting of the ballot language.

Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Families for Better Public Schools, has responded to the lawsuit filed against the governor.

"The anti-charter side cannot even get the ballot language correct when they are complaining about it. The question asks voters if they support “local or state” approval, not “local and state” approval as their press release indicates, and that one word makes a big difference," he said.

"This is another attempt by the anti-charter opposition to make this election about everything but the issue at hand."

To read the full text of the lawsuit, see the attached PDF.

E.F. Hanson November 01, 2012 at 09:25 PM
The language is designed to confuse....doublespeak. After I read it in the voting booth, I was unsure whether there might not be another question. So was my husband.( Between us we hold 3 masters degrees, one MFA, one MD and one PhD, so we are not especially ignorant.). This is really a disgraceful attempt to deceive the voting public, and it may well work.
Nancy Wilkinson November 02, 2012 at 02:25 PM
"Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public school options" - makes you feel like you'd have to be a hateful horrible person to vote against such a wonderful resolution. Would be helpful if there were another sentence there about "options include allowing corporations to run your public school"

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