BOE defers decision on Ivy Prep charter requests

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

SUWANEE — At the request of Ivy Preparatory Academy founder Nina Gilbert, the Gwinnett County Board of Education has delayed a decision on two charter school petitions submitted by Gilbert.

Gilbert had submitted requests to start up two charter schools, Ivy Preparatory Academy at Gwinnett and Ivy Prep Young Men’s Leadership Academy.

On Wednesday, Gilbert submitted her request for the board to defer its decision “so as to be allowed further opportunity to meet with you so that we may effectively and efficiently answer all questions (Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks) or the board may have,” the letter states.

The board removed the item from its agenda Thursday evening.

Ivy Prep’s funding is in jeopardy, since the state Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that the law that created a state agency that approves and funds charter schools is unconstitutional.

Ivy Prep, the state’s first all-girls charter school, opened in Norcross in 2009. Because the school had been rejected by the Gwinnett school board, Ivy Prep operated only on state tax dollars in its first year.

When the Georgia Charter Schools Commission was created a year later, it approved Ivy Prep, which allowed the school to receive additional state tax dollars to make up for the local funding it does not receive. That money was funneled away from local school districts, and Gwinnett County Public Schools said it was costing them about $800,000 a year.

Gwinnett County Public Schools and six other school districts filed a lawsuit challenging the law that created the Charter Schools Commission. The legal battle appears to have ended with the Supreme Court’s decision.

Supporters of Ivy Prep asked school board members Thursday evening to consider the school’s record of success when they do consider Gilbert’s charter petitions.