Georgia Charter Law Under Fire

Last Updated: September 28, 2010

This article appeared in the September 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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A charter school funding case that will be heard by the Georgia Supreme Court next month could determine how much control over charter school budgets that regular school districts will have. As first reported in the October 2009 edition of RSFN, a group of school districts is challenging the constitutionality of the Georgia Charter School Commission (GCSC). The districts are appealing a decision from Fulton County Court earlier this year that found in favor of the charter schools. Three large urban and suburban districts (Gwinnett and DeKalb counties and the Atlanta City schools) were joined by rural Bulloch, Henry and Candler counties and suburban Griffin-Spalding in calling for the dissolution of the GCSC and the charter schools it has approved.

The GCSC is a chartering entity created by state law in 2008. It can approve charter school applications independently and over the objections of a local board. State funding to the local school district is reduced by the amount the local district would have spent on students enrolled in charter schools located in the district. School district officials argue that this leaves local traditional schools with severe funding deficiencies.

The suit cites a number of Georgia Constitutional articles, including Article VIII, which says local funds can only be controlled by locally elected boards or through a referendum. Rural Coweta County School District had recently filed a separate, similar suit.

Georgia is one of only nine states with independent chartering agencies, making it one of the most ‘charter-friendly’ states according to charter school advocates. Similar charter school funding lawsuits have been filed in a number of states, with mixed results.

Read more:
Local coverage:

Coverage on the earlier decision:

Coverage including a statement by the head of the state charter school association:

Read more from the September 2010 Rural Policy Matters.