State Charter Authorizer Legislation Sent To Governor

The state charter authorizer at one point would have allowed applicants to come directly to the panel with proposals for any part of the state. Image courtesy North Georgia State

The state charter authorizer at one point would have allowed applicants to come directly to the panel with proposals for any part of the state. Image courtesy North Georgia State

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.

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