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Coweta School Board to sue Ga. Charter Schools Commission

The Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia received state approval last month to begin operations of its K-8 elementary school in August.

But the Coweta County Board of Education last week said it will take the matter to court.

Pertaining to the upcoming suit, school board attorney Nathan Lee said the board on March 9 authorized him to move forward with litigation against the Georgia Charter Schools Commission and any necessary parties that apply. Lee declined to name the Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia in the upcoming action.

In describing the nature of the suit Lee said that, in general terms, the school board believes the way the Georgia Charter School Commission was set up is unconstitutional with respect to some of the powers given it by the Georgia legislature and by the manner in which the commission plans on funding any state granted charter school.

“The manner of funding will come by using local tax dollars by a school not created by or controlled by a local board,” Lee said.

Lee added that the Coweta County School Board is not anti-charter given that the county already funds and supports a charter school, the Central Education Center, but it was not in favor of the charter school in Coweta that was recently approved by the state charter commission.

Lee said the complaint is expected to be filed by the end of March.

The Senoia charter school was approved by the Georgia Charter Schools Commission in December, paving the way for Florida-based Charter Schools USA to open a K-8 charter school in Senoia.

The Coweta County School System in early January filed a request with the state school board asking that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission decision to approve the school be overturned.

Then in early February the Georgia State School Board (BOE) offered no opposition to the recommendation by the board’s Charter Schools Committee that the petition to start up the Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia be approved.

The Coweta County School Board at its June 25 meeting denied the petition based on 11 concerns.

A traditional public school is organized according to federal laws, state school laws, state BOE rules and local board of education policies. A charter school is organized according to federal laws, applicable state school laws and BOE rules that cannot be waived and the terms of the charter contract, according to the Georgia Dept. of Education (DOE).

Under Georgia law, a charter school is a public school that operates according to the terms of a charter, or contract, that has been approved either by a local board of education or the state charter commission and the state Board of Education (BOE). The charter school may request waivers from provisions of Title 20 of Georgia state law and any state or local rule, regulation, policy, or procedure relating to schools in the school district. In exchange for this flexibility, the charter school is bound by contract and held accountable for meeting the performance-based objectives specified in the charter, according to DOE.

The Georgia Charter Schools Act of 1998 states that a charter school shall be included in the allotment of funds to the local school system in which the charter school is located. The local board and state board will treat the charter school no less favorably than other local schools in the school district with respect to the provision of funds for instructional and school administration and, where feasible, transportation, food services, and building programs. The amount of money the charter school will receive from the local board will be determined according to the provisions of the Charter Schools Act of 1998, according to DOE.



grassroots's picture

I will confess I don't know much about charter schools but I do know that BOE's and the teacher's unions oppose them. Can this lawyer show me in the US Constitution where any public education is a right? I know the article is referring to state but states are backed by the Federal Department of Education funds which is not provided for in The Constitution. I also know that public school education costs 93% more than private schools per student. Did the Coweta County taxpayers and Georgia taxpayers know their hard earned money was going to go to an attorney and his associates? They must think we're a bunch of chimps. Oops..that's the ape they teach we come from.
Read "They Spend What?" at
Time to audit Coweta County and all BOE's if they continue to bully alternative forms of education.

You can take your shots @ the FCBOE but you obviously know little or nothing about Coweta. They are paying their teacher's furloughs, they have money in reserve, they have started inovative 9th grade campuses, they have a charter campus they started. There is already Odyssey School in the system. By the way, they are public servants & serve pro bono. The legal issues are deeper about who can do what. My question in all this has been, "Who is going to pay for this new school?" 20 acres bought in Senoia. A 50k sq/ft building, parking, desk, chairs, books, computers, a library.. a school. How much did FCBOE pay for their empty school? End of the day, who pays? Do the founders present the bill to the Coweta BOE for an unbudgeted capital expense?

Here is the issue:

Charter schools take away local control. The Charter School Board is not elected, but appointed at the state level. The other side to this is school choice. Parent can choose to place their children in the charter school, it is not mandatory. I believe parents should have the right to choose a school for their child. I understand the school in Senoia is for students with disabilities. This group has the lowest graduation rate and five year outcome than any other population in Georgia public schools. Many students throughout Georgia have taken advantage of SB10 and used the voucher system to obtain an education and have gone on to college or to a job. However SB10 vouchers do not cover the full fee of a private school and many families are unable to pay the remaining costs.

To clear up cost issues. A charter school does not need to meet the model of a public school. They can open in already existing buildings. Many private schools in our area do this already. The additional cost to educate a child in a charter school vs. a public school is the same to a tax payer, just as the voucher system. Public school system are fearful of losing their students in an "open market" for education. Kansas City schools is a prime example the loss of educational tax dollars due to school choice. The loss of students in our local system has been very high the last few years and I feel will continue to due to parents seeking better educational opportunities.

Another charter school offered to all is: Georgia Cyber Academy In fact it is so popular it may need to go to a lottery for admission this year.

I understand the concern for an appointed board vs. an elected board, however our local elected school boards have not gained my faith that they are capable of educating our students. The truth is in the graduation rate and five year outcome.

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