SUWANEE — An elected leader with Gwinnett County Public Schools said she was thankful Wednesday to hear news that House lawmakers rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution giving the General Assembly power to create new charter schools.
School Board Chairwoman Louise Radloff said the House vote of 110-62 to support changes to the constitution — just short of the two-thirds required by law — was a victory for public education.
“I’m not sure where it will go, but I’m very thankful for the legislators who voted against it,” Radloff said. “I’m for public education, and that means public schools.”
The constitutional amendment was aimed at ending legal uncertainty created by a recent state Supreme Court ruling that found a state commission that created a dozen charter schools was unconstitutional, because it created the schools and funded them despite objection of local school boards.
The ruling did not affect charter schools authorized by local officials, but it could likely affect Norcross charter school Ivy Prep Academy.
Ivy Prep rallied last month, asking supporters to “mobilize” and support the state legislation that Founder Nina Gilbert said would “ensure the future of our children in Gwinnett County and beyond.”
In January, the Gwinnett County Board of Education voted to deny a charter extension of Ivy Prep Academy’s Gwinnett campus as well as a proposed new location in the county.
The decision came after a district charter review committee cited “significant deficiencies” in Ivy Prep Academy’s financials and curriculum as well as its vision.
In light of the local school board’s decision, Ivy Prep representatives turned to the state and its supporters.
Multiple calls to Ivy Preparatory Academy’s founder were not returned as of Wednesday evening.
Radloff said she suspected that those in favor of the bill “could always go back to the drawing board, and the Senate could bring its own bill.”
Radloff added, however, that she firmly believes “we should be paying public schools the appropriate amount of money under the state’s Qualified Basic Education formula. If charter schools that are approved in Gwinnett County meet the same kinds of rules as others do in terms of class size and per-pupil funding, then I’m for them.”
Added Radloff: “But this is a big question, a big issue that needs to continue to be examined.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.