Charter schools trying to open in Tennessee could soon get permission directly from the state school board, if their local school district refuses. Legislation letting the state function as a so-called “charter authorizer” is on its way to the governor.
The bill just finalized in the House spells out if applicants to start a charter school are rejected by their local board, the state has the power to authorize them instead. It would only apply to districts that have schools in the bottom 5 percent statewide, mostly in cities.
“I don’t foresee this being used often, but when it is needed I think we’ll have the capacity to do it.”
House Speaker Beth Harwell pushed for the bill after a blowup with education officials over a rejected charter applicant in Nashville.
Two years ago Metro essentially said it couldn’t be forced by the state to approve an Arizona-based charter called Great Hearts. The bill the House just passed aims to make sure it doesn’t happen again.