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Date Posted: 12:22:18 01/04/10 Mon
Author: Larry
Subject: On independent school systems
In reply to: Donald F. Valtman 's message, "Re: True, but here's the difference" on 23:51:18 01/03/10 Sun

I may have confused this by using “independent” as a general term but, from a legal perspective, “independent” (and sometimes “area”) public school systems are those that operate outside the control of a county Board of Education. Buford City Schools, for example, is an independent school system.

At one time, municipalities and various other entities could form public school systems. The 1945 GA Constitution defined school systems as bound by county lines, allowed the continued operation of currently existing independent school systems including special schools, but prohibited the formation of any additional school systems by any entity. The current Constitution is less wordy but says the same thing in Article VIII.

The state IS allowed to create new “special” schools, like the Georgia Academy for the Blind, that are public schools but may only accept kids with certain disabilities defined somewhere in Title 20 code.

This issue actually surfaced last year, when the state BoE started approving “state chartered special schools” that were loosely defined and served the general public instead of students with disabilities. This is how Ivy Prep operated its first year. Since these schools received only state funds and didn’t affect the state funding of other school systems, everyone sort of looked the other way and let it go. This situation is, however, mentioned in the current legal action.

The current argument, Count 40 in the complaint, is that the GA Charter School Commission is operating an independent (as defined above) school system that is open to the general public, which violates Article VIII.

You know, our sparring over this case may be the only arguments the public ever hears, because I still think both sides will settle before the court gets to decide anything.

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