A network of four charter schools in Nashville has settled a lawsuit over sending automated text messages to prospective families. The class-action suit accused RePublic of breaking federal communication law meant to prevent spam texting.
RePublic is admitting no fault. But the charter operator is paying $2.2 million that will be split up among attorneys and the owners of more than 5,000 phones. Lawyers from Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, who are representing the families, say they should get about $120 per unwanted text — which is one of the largest amounts ever for a spam text suit.
One of the 12,000 alleged automated texts said, “4th-grade parents, your child is eligible to attend Nashville Academy of Computer Science next year. Please call us at 615-873-0484 to tour our facility!”
Ravi Gupta, the founder of RePublic, has stepped down as CEO since the lawsuit was filed in early 2016. In a statement, new CEO John Rybka stressed that the money will not come from tax dollars and is covered by an insurance policy. He calls the lawsuit "a distraction," adding that a settlement will allow the organization to refocus attention on students, 85 percent of whom come from low-income families.
RePublic runs Liberty Collegiate, Nashville Prep, RePublic High School and the Nashville Academy of Computer Science, as well as two schools in Jackson, Mississippi.
Currently, Metro Schools is locked in a more fundamental dispute with charters over contacting students: The Nashville school board is flouting a state mandate to turnover student phone numbers and addresses to charter schools that ask for it.