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Date Posted: 11:04:49 05/21/10 Fri
Author: Grizz
Subject: Re: And you thought . . .
In reply to: Donald F. Valtman 's message, "And you thought . . ." on 11:35:27 05/16/10 Sun

I believe Judge Wendy Shoob’s decision in the Gwinnett School Board case was wrong and completely at odds with any fair reading of the state Constitution. The General Assembly, charged with making all laws for Georgia, does not have the authority to make laws “inconsistent with [the] Constitution”, yet that is precisely what they did when they created the Georgia Charter Schools Commission (GCSC) and vested with it the power to create and oversee schools statewide. They made an independent school system in fact if not in law, something that is prohibited in Article VIII, Paragraph I of the Constitution. For all practical purposes, the GCSC is acting as any local school board would. In a further violation of the state Constitution, this board is appointed, and not elected as specified in the Constitution, Section VIII, Paragraph II.

The legislature relied on the power that they could create “special” schools which had always referred to schools for special needs students (blind, deaf, handicapped, etc.) in various parts of the state. Judge Shoob accepted the defendant’s assertion that a special school, pursuant to Article VIII, Paragraph VII of the revised Constitution, was whatever the legislature or the GCSC said it was. That is, a charter school which might be indistinguishable from any local public school, could be considered a special school if it was approved by the GCSC.

Finally, adding further insult to the Constitution, the GCSC is empowered to deduct state funding from local school systems and give it to the charter schools in their districts. This, despite a constitutional prohibition which prohibits the state from taxing special schools without the consent of the voters in the district. Once again, Judge Shoob’s opinion was that the state could fund local schools in any manner they deemed proper but overlooked the de facto implications of this action since that nearly one million dollars deducted from Gwinnett had to be made up with local tax money.

I have no objections to charter schools. None. However, I do have serious objections when I have no recourse to local elected officials for the taxes imposed upon me to create and maintain public schools. It’s wrong; it’s illegal; and it should be stopped.

Paragraph I. General powers. The General Assembly shall have the power to make all laws not inconsistent with this Constitution, and not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, which it shall deem necessary and proper for the welfare of the state.

Paragraph I. School systems continued; consolidation of school systems authorized; new independent school systems prohibited. Authority is granted to county and area boards of education to establish and maintain public schools within their limits. Existing county and independent school systems shall be continued, except that the General Assembly may provide by law for the consolidation of two or more county school systems, independent school systems, portions thereof, or any combination thereof into a single county or area school system under the control and management of a county or area board of education, under such terms and conditions as the General Assembly may prescribe; but no such consolidation shall become effective until approved by a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon in each separate school system proposed to be consolidated. No independent school system shall hereafter be established.
Paragraph II. Boards of education. Each school system shall be under the management and control of a board of education, the members of which shall be elected as provided by law. School board members shall reside within the territory embraced by the school system and shall have such compensation and additional qualifications as may be provided by law. Any board of education to which the members are appointed as of December 31, 1992, shall continue as an appointed board of education through December 31, 1993, and the appointed members of such board of education who are in office on December 31, 1992, shall continue in office as members of such appointed board until December 31, 1993, on which date the terms of office of all appointed members shall end.
Paragraph III. School superintendents. There shall be a school superintendent of each system appointed by the board of education who shall be the executive officer of the board of education and shall have such qualifications, powers, and duties as provided by general law. Any elected school superintendent in office on January 1, 1993, shall continue to serve out the remainder of his or her respective term of office and shall be replaced by an appointee of the board of education at the expiration of such term.
Paragraph IV. Reserved.
Paragraph V. Power of boards to contract with each other. (a) Any two or more boards of education may contract with each other for the care, education, and transportation of pupils and for such other activities as they may be authorized by law to perform.
(b) The General Assembly may provide by law for the sharing of facilities or services by and between local boards of education under such joint administrative authority as may be authorized.
Paragraph VI. Power of boards to accept bequests, donations, grants, and transfers. The board of education of each school system may accept bequests, donations, grants, and transfers of land, buildings, and other property for the use of such system.
Paragraph VII. Special schools. (a) The General Assembly may provide by law for the creation of special schools in such areas as may require them and may provide for the participation of local boards of education in the establishment of such schools under such terms and conditions as it may provide; but no bonded indebtedness may be incurred nor a school tax levied for the support of special schools without the approval of a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon in each of the systems affected. Any special schools shall be operated in conformity with regulations of the State Board of Education pursuant to provisions of law. The state is authorized to expend funds for the support and maintenance of special schools in such amount and manner as may be provided by law.
(b) Nothing contained herein shall be construed to affect the authority of local boards of education or of the state to support and maintain special schools created prior to June 30, 1983.

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