Dean Fears “Hostile” Label after Great Hearts Charter Denial

Mayor Karl Dean says Nashville is still a welcoming place for charter schools, even after this week’s denial of Great Hearts Academies.

Dean endorsed the charter operator from Arizona, and encouraged the school board to approve its application. The elected board ultimately defied an order from the state and denied Great Hearts over concerns that the school would cater to affluent families.

Dean says Nashville “missed a great opportunity.”

“The danger is that national charters which are non-profits which are public schools are in a position where they’re going to look at Nashville and think its hostile.”

An email is circulating among parents who initially signed a petition trying to bring Great Hearts to Nashville. It suggests they send a form-message to Governor Bill Haslam, asking him to step in and to punish the Metro school board.

Below is text of the form email that parents are asked to send to Haslam, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Mark Cate, who is Haslam’s chief of staff.

Commissioner Huffman, Governor Haslam, Speaker Harwell,

MNPS did not have the authority to deny a charter that was approved by the Tennessee State Board of Education. WE EXPECT your attention on this issue. If you don’t have authority over the local school board, then what authority do you have? The MNPS board dug their own grave by voting against Great Hearts, thereby waiving their right as the authorizer. BUT NOT DENYING THE SCHOOL FROM OPENING. It is your responsibility to create the avenues necessary for the State’s decision on Great Hearts to stand. It is a tragedy for our families and our children to have to go through this process. We were counting on Great Hearts, and we are counting on you.
WE ARE TIRED OF WAITING FOR LEGISLATION. We are tired of waiting for you to take action. The waiver authority available to the Commissioner as outlined in the Tennessee Charter Act GIVES HIM THE AUTHORITY to by-pass the LEA, and it is your responsibility to figure out what that would look like for Great Hearts. Not next year, but RIGHT NOW.
As tax-payers and voters of the state of Tennessee, we expect the State Board of Education to uphold their decision to allow Great Hearts to open their first of five schools in the fall of 2014. We will not accept lawlessness from our local school board, and we will not accept anything less than your full attention to this issue.
We respectfully request that the Metro Nashville School Board receive a maximum penalty for abusing their authority and the law. IT IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR THEM TO HAVE NO CONSEQUENCES FOR KNOWINGLY BREAKING THE LAW. They have directly challenged your authority as state officials. Their behavior is deplorable and we expect you to use every resource available to you to ensure that this never happens again.

Please keep your community civil. Comments will be moderated prior to posting, and Nashville Public Radio reserves the right to approve them at its discretion. Comments containing links promoting goods, services - even noble organizations - will not be published. Your comments may include external links, but all comments with links will be delayed as they are reviewed. Comments containing profanity will be rejected.