Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CP: School Board Split on Taking State to Court

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 11:58 AM

The Metro school board last night held a special meeting to discuss how to proceed in the wake of a $3.4 million slap on the wrist from the state, after the board refused to approve a charter application from Great Hearts Academies. It seems members are split on whether to continue the fight in court.

Andrea Zelinski reports for The City Paper:

Leading the charge to legally challenge the state was newly elected board member Amy Frogge, an attorney. She argued that she sees no option other than trying to get the district’s money back from the state, but she stressed to reporters after the meeting that she would be satisfied with whatever the board decides so long as it meets with outside counsel first.

“This has been a very trying two months for us. I think we’ve been placed in a really impossible position as a board, and I think we are all tired,” she said. “But my opinion is that we need to make sure that our students are not punished improperly by the state, and we need to be good stewards of the resources that we do have.”

Will Pinkston, who is also new to the school board, said the body has already spent too much energy on the charter school and risks further putting itself at odds with the state.

“What the state giveth, the state can taketh away, if not in funding, then certainly in statute,” said Pinkston, a former high-ranking officer in former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration.

Pinkston warned that legislation is now in the works to create a statewide panel that could approve charter school applications, allowing them to circumvent school districts like MNPS.

“We’ve got to get back to business and get this relationship back on track,” he said. “Ordinarily, I like to fight. But this is a situation where I just have to stop and ask what’s in the best interest of the system.”

Most members seemed open to revisiting negotiations with the Department of Education or seeking other alternatives to recoup the funding without going to court.

The board is expected to make a final decision at its next meeting on Nov. 13. Read Zelinski's whole report here.

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