UPDATE: State Charter Schools Unconstitutional Georgia Supreme Court Says

The Museum School of Avondale Estates is affected by this ruling.

The Supreme Court of Georgia struck down the act that created state commissioned charter schools, ruling them unconstitutional, in a move that will affect thousands of children in the state, including

In this case, seven local school districts -- Gwinnett, Bulloch, Candler, DeKalb, Atlanta, Griffin-Spalding and Henry -- sued former state Superintendent Kathy Cox, the Department of Education, the Charter Schools Commission, and three charter schools approved by the commission.

A total of 17 schools are affected, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In May, 2010, a trial court ruled in favor of the charter schools and today's opinion reverses that decision.

"Because our constitution embodies the fundamental principle of exclusive local control of general primary and secondary (K-12) public education, and the Act clearly and palpably violates ... by authorizing a state commission to establish competing state-created general K-12 schools under the guise of being "special schools," we reverse," the Supreme Court of Georgia opinion states.

Justice David Nahmias cast the dissenting opinion, calling the majority's reasoning, "Illogical," and its conclusion "overbroad."

For the , 135 students will be affected, and it's unclear where a new charter will come from to operate. The Museum School is a free, public charter school that opened last fall. The school has plans to add 4th grade for the 2011-2012 academic year.

"Though we are disappointed by the court’s decision, we are working with the Georgia Charter Schools Association to ensure continued educational opportunities for our students," said Sasha Webb, the board chair of The Museum School of Avondale Estates. "We will be meeting with the GCSA to examine the possibility of legislative remedies."

She added, "In addition, we are pursuing opportunities for authorization from another source. We will be working diligently to continue providing our students with an excellent public education. We will keep our families and community updated on our future course of action."

The school's museum concept of learning incorporates arts and cultural experiences. Students step outside their classrooms and engage in activities at places like the Georgia Aquarium and learn from experts from these organizations.

The launch of The Museum School was seven years in the making and it was conceived by area residents and parents, many of whom chipped in their own money. A sign outside the school shows that more than $200,000 has been raised for the development fund for a permanent building. 

The International Community School in Avondale is not affected since its charter comes from DeKalb County School System.

The Georgia Charter Schools Association plans a rally at the state capitol at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The Museum School plans to take part.

The email from the Museum School said, "If not addressed legislatively, this decision threatens to have dramatic consequences for Georgia’s charter school sector, and it is not an issue confined to state-chartered schools. The court’s ruling gives local school districts the freedom to reject charter school petitions with impunity, stripping students and their families of choice."

David Ratonyi May 19, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Sounds like a power grab on the part of county school systems to even bring this lawsuit about.


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