The Georgia Supreme Court has served the future of former state commission charter schools back over the net and back into the Legislature’s court. This morning the Court announced that it will not review last month’s decision that overturned the three-year-old commission.
“The majority of the Georgia Supreme Court has just found 16,000 innocent children in Georgia guilty of choosing a better education,” said Georgia Charter Schools Association chief executive officer Tony Roberts. “And even worse, the justices have sentenced them to failing or inadequate schools.”
This morning's announcement comes exactly one week before Atlanta hosts the four-day-long National Charter Schools annual conference. Former President Bill Clinton will keynote the Tuesday session and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is scheduled on Wednesday.
Attorney General Sam Olens petitioned the Supreme Court to reconsider its May 16 decision, but in a single sentence released Monday the Court announced, “Upon consideration of the motion for reconsideration in this case, it is ordered that it be hereby denied.” No other reason was given. The motion was considered a long shot because the Court seldom grants reconsideration.
Sixteen brick-and-mortar and online learning schools have scrambled to secure new local or state special school charters, along with funding, since the Supreme Court decision four weeks ago today. The Court ruled the state could not grant commission charters to schools that had already had been turned down by local boards of education.
Last week the state Board of Education approved special school charters for Odyssey School in Newnan, and for Georgia Cyber Academy which expects to enroll 8,500 online learners this fall. Several schools have applied to districts for temporary local charters. The state board is expected to meet again this month to consider charters for schools that still need them.
The next step likely returns this question to the Legislature.
Governor Nathan Deal’s office, along with House and Senate education committee members, have begun discussions about placing a constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot that would seek permission for the state to authorize and fund charter schools. The General Assembly would most likely address this question next January.
All Georgia charter schools are public schools. The former commission schools expected to enroll 16,000 of the state’s 77,000 total charter schools students when class resumes in August.
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