Nashville leaders object to state charter school authorizer - WSMV News 4

Nashville leaders object to state charter school authorizer

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A move in the state legislature is already drawing protests from leaders in Nashville. At issue is who should decide if more charter schools can come to Davidson County.

Some leaders believe it could lead to the re-segregation of schools, and they call it an unfunded mandate. However, many parents say it would settle the issue once and for all.

With her children's neighborhood schools scoring D's and F's on the state school report card, Richelle Deharde thought Arizona-based Great Hearts Academy would be a great option for her children.

"We were really excited about Great Hearts, the possibility that, 'Hey, this may be different than what we've been offered by Metro until now,'" Deharde said.

But she was crushed to learn the Metro school board rejected Great Hearts' charter application last year, despite a mandate from the state.

"I cried. I absolutely cried," Deharde said.

The entire Great Hearts incident has now triggered a huge debate on who should decide which schools should open in Nashville. If the state legislature has its way, charter schools could bypass the Metro school board and go to the state for approval.

That now has many city and school leader furious.

"This is not about giving choices. Choices are here. This is about putting the right choices in place for our children and not creating an unfunded mandate and unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Nashville," said Metro Councilman Steve Glover.

A group of Metro school board members, council members and state lawmakers stood together Monday in opposition of a state charter school authorizer.

"If we are going to bring in a state authorizer, I would love to know how it is going to improve our system, because right now I think it is top-notch and 100 percent," said Metro school board chairman Cheryl Mayes.

However, parents like Deharde say it could be the only way to correct what she believes is a huge wrong.

"A lot of people are saying, 'Don't let the state step in and take away our school board's voice.' The school board took away our voice for all of the parents that we're excited and wanted Great Hearts and wanted at least the opportunity to see if it would make a difference, to see if it would be a viable option," Deharde said.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has expressed support for the state charter school authorizer. A resolution to oppose the authorizer could be discussed at the council meeting Tuesday.

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