On State Appeal, Great Hearts Allowed Into Metro

A Phoenix-based charter-school operator will be able to expand into Nashville, even though it was rejected by Metro last month. Great Hearts Academies appealed to the state school board, which today effectively overturned Metro’s decision, ushering in a new kind of charter school.

Charters are privately run but publicly funded. What made Great Hearts unique is it’s the first in Tennessee to take advantage of a legal change letting charters serve students who aren’t necessarily poor or zoned for failing schools.

With plans to open its first school in affluent West Nashville, critics worried Great Hearts wouldn’t serve many minority students or those learning English. One Metro board member said it amounts to segregation.

After state officials voted unanimously to remand Metro’s rejection today, Nashville charter director Alan Coverstone tried to smooth over the conflict.

“I love the people in Great Hearts Academy. This is strictly an evaluation of their application and the likelihood of delivery, which is what we do with every application we receive.”

The Metro board must now reverse its decision at its next meeting. State board director Gary Nixon predicts more charters will likely follow in the mold of Great Hearts, saying “This is the first shot.”

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