Trigger law has some parents considering charter options - WSMV Channel 4

Trigger law has some parents considering charter options

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Nashville parents concerned over the quality of their children's education are exploring taking over their schools.

The trigger law, as it is called, could allow them to change any public school into a charter school, and a new movie is fueling the idea in many communities across the country.

Parents like Susan Sasser are taking drastic measures to get a quality education for their kids.

"I have a friend that has gone back to work full-time to be able to afford private schools. They just weren't comfortable sending their child to Gower. I've had neighbors that have moved," Sasser said.

Neighboring districts may seem inviting for some frustrated parents, but an update last year in a 10-year-old state charter school law may help. Now, a school doesn't have to be failing for parents to step in, as the trigger law states.

"If 60 percent of parents or 60 percent of teachers vote accordingly, a public school could be converted to a charter school," said Metro Schools Spokeswoman Meredith Libbey.

Coincidentally, a movie coming out in theatres next week, Won't Back Down, is based on such a takeover, but Metro Councilwoman Emily Evans said concerns have been voiced to her long before now.

"What they are unhappy with is the ever-changing decision making of the central office," Evans said.

Evans added rules made for one school may hinder students in another district, but there are still questions about a parent-controlled school.

"I think a lot of parents want to know, 'can we keep our principal, can we keep our teachers? Are we just talking about a change of management, essentially?'" Evans said.

Metro school officials plan to meet with parents next month to spell out their options.

"I just think there are so many parents fed up with the system that we are going to have a lot more of parents that are willing to be involved and put some time in," Sasser said.

Even if one of these public schools becomes a charter school, they would still have the same standards as other charter schools, and the Metro school board would have to first approve it.

A pair of meetings are scheduled for next month to outline academic options for Nashville students and explain the trigger law.

The first is set for Hillwood High School on Oct. 1. The second meeting will take place at the Metro Courthouse on Oct. 15. Both meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

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