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GCPS to file lawsuit questioning constitutionality of Charter Schools Commission

SUWANEE - The Gwinnett County Board of Education is expected to vote tonight to move forward with legal action to contest the establishment of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission.

"This is not an anti-charter school lawsuit," Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said. "... We do not believe the Charter Schools Commission has standing under the state Constitution to manage and control local schools. The constitution clearly establishes that public schools are to be under the governance and control of elected local boards of education."

The lawsuit, which has not yet been filed, will have three main points:

· The school system does not believe the Charter Schools Commission has standing under the state constitution.

· The school system does not believe the Commission has the constitutional authority to establish a statewide independent school system, as it is doing in authorizing its own charter schools.

· The school system does not believe the Commission has the constitutional authority to direct local tax dollars to the operation of Commission-approved charter schools.

Wilbanks said the school system has already approved two successful charter schools - a start-up charter, New Life Academy of Excellence in Norcross, and a system charter, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, currently housed in Duluth High School. Two more charter schools are being planned.