Lawsuit challenges Georgia charter school vote, claims ballot proposal wording was “deceptive”

November 22, 2012

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Victor Skinner Victor Skinner

Victor is a communications specialist for EAG and joined in 2009. Previously, he was a newspaper journalist.
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By Steve Gunn
EAGnews.org

ATLANTA – Some people have trouble accepting defeat and moving on.

On Election Day, 59 percent of participating Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment that will revive a statewide commission that will have the power to approve the opening of new charter schools that were denied at the local school board level.

Many school boards resent competition for students posed by charter schools, and use their power under state law to block their formation within their districts.

School reform advocates believe the revived state agency will represent the needs of students who are underserved in their home school districts and could use more school choice options.

But several Georgia residents have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the amendment, claiming the wording of the ballot proposal was “intentionally deceptive.”

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus has announced plans to join the lawsuit, according to a news report from CrossroadsNews.com.

“Ever since the word has come out about our legal effort to turn this back, I have received countless emails from people across the state saying how betrayed they felt after learning what they voted for,” said state Sen. Emanuel Jones, chairman of the caucus.

The ballot proposal said: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

We fail to see what’s unclear about that. It says the amendment would allow charter schools to gain approval at the state level or local level.

The way we see it, the families of Georgia should be given the final say on this issue, and they will do their voting with their feet. If they want their children to attend the new charter schools that will be approved by the state agency, then the schools will probably be successful. If there is little or no public demand for these schools, they will dry up and die.

There’s no need for a lawsuit which would, if successful, only block valuable educational options for thousands of children stuck in less-than-successful traditional schools.

The Wall Street Journal also has a problem with the lawsuit, particularly the claim that “the people didn’t know what they were voting for.”

“This is the legal equivalent of sending back a hamburger because you didn’t know it came with meat,” the WSJ wrote in an editorial this week. “Georgia voters rallied around the charters because they want something better for their children than the dismal status quo.”

The people have spoken in overwhelming numbers. The election result should stand.

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