Brookhaven files new charter school petition

Georgia law says new cities can’t have their own schools, but the new City of Brookhaven may have found a way around that.

Leaders of the 3-year-old municipality are again petitioning the State Charter Schools Commission to let them open a school. After a similar petition was denied last year, they came back with a revised proposal Monday that they say has addressed many of the state’s concerns.

The commission has pushed against the city’s involvement in the charter, expressing concerns about a conflict of interest. State-chartered schools must open enrollment statewide, and some suspected Brookhaven wanted to limit enrollment to city residents. That suspicion stemmed from the composition of the original governing board, which was composed exclusively of city officials. The petitioners have scaled back city involvement in their new petition though, which was hand-delivered Monday.

The board of the Brookhaven Innovation Academy will start with a minimum of nine members and can grow to 16, with only two of them nominated by the mayor. The local chamber of commerce would name a member, as would the superintendent of the DeKalb County School District. Parents at the school would get two nominations.

The board would vote on those nominations. It would start with two city council members: Bates Mattison and Joe Gebbia.

The new petition strengthens ties to students in need, with a letter from Latin American Association executive director Anibal Torres offering to help the school recruit Hispanic students.

The city’s development authority is looking to buy a $2.8 million property to lease to the school. Other cities, prohibited from running their own schools by the Georgia constitution, say they may follow Brookhaven’s lead.

The commission will meet to consider the petition on Aug. 26.

Read more about the school and the debate over it’s novel approach at myajc.com.

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