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Some Georgia Charter Schools May Close After Court Ruling

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 20, 2011 6:44 AM

Though parents across the country have embraced charter schools as a better alternative to traditional K-12 education, hesitant school districts stifled by budgetary constraints sometimes stand in the way.

One such situation led to a ruling this week by the Georgia Supreme Court that has put some Georgia charter schools in the fast lane to closure, and has left nearly 15,000 students questioning the future of their education.

In response to local school districts denying funding and approval for charter schools, in 2008 the Georgia legislature created the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, which allowed the state to approve and fund charter schools.

Though tens of thousands of students were already attending district-sanctioned charter schools, the Associated Press reports that legislators felt that the new wave of denials was inappropriate.

A group of school districts sued, claiming that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission was invalid under the Georgia Constitution.

The Georgia Constitution is unique in that Article VIII, Section V deals exclusively with the issue of primary and secondary education at the local level, including the relationship between local districts, the legislature and "special schools."

After a thorough analysis of the meaning of "special school," the Georgia Supreme Court stated that the Georgia Constitution "embodies the fundamental principle of exclusive local control of general primary and secondary public education," thus making the Georgia Charter Schools Commission is unconstitutional.

This means that 17 Georgia charter schools were created by the Commission can no longer receive state funding unless accepted into a local school district, The New York Times reports.

It's unclear how the state is going to handle this and whether school districts will be accommodating, but hopefully the students affected will be able to return to their schools come September.

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