Mississippi’s Charter School Funding Challenged in Court
On July 11, 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center backed a lawsuit by several parents (also on behalf of their children) against Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, the Mississippi Department of Education, and the Jackson Public School District; the suit challenges the constitutionality of using ad valorem tax money and per-pupil funding to fiscally support charter schools in Mississippi (as per the Charter Schools Act of 2013, or CSA).
The gist of the suit involves giving public money to schools that are not overseen by the state and district. An excerpt from the suit:
Section 206 of the Mississippi Constitution provides that a school district’s ad valorem taxes may only be used for the district to maintain its own schools. Under the CSA, public school districts must share ad valorem revenue with charter schools that they do not control or supervise. Therefore, the local funding stream of the CSA is unconstitutional.Section 208 of the Mississippi Constitution forbids the Legislature from appropriating money to any school that is not operating as a “free school.” A “free school” is not merely a school that charges no tuition; it must also be regulated by the State Superintendent of Education and the local school district superintendent. Charter schools– which are not under the control of the State Board of Education, the State Superintendent of Education, the Mississippi Department of Education, the local school district superintendent, or the local school district– are not “free schools.” Accordingly, the state funding provision of the CSA is unconstitutional. …The CSA heralds a financial cataclysm for public school districts across the state. … The future is clear: as a direct result of the unconstitutional CSA funding provisions, traditional public schools will have fewer teachers, books, and educational resources.
The suit refers to three charter schools already open in Jackson and an additional 14 planning to open– with 11 of the 14 intending to set up shop in Jackson.
The CSA language is clear in its intent that the “money should follow the child,” so to speak, with the state department of education being directed to pay the charter schools “for each student in average daily attendance at the charter school equal to the state share of the adequate education program payments for each student in daily average attendance at the school district in which the charter school is located.” Mississippi’s Charter School Funding Challenged in Court | deutsch29:Big Education Ape: SPLC lawsuit: Mississippi charter school funding violates state constitution | Southern Poverty Law Center - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/07/splc-lawsuit-mississippi-charter-school.html
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