Brookhaven wins permission to open charter school

A new charter school with city support is slated to open in the new city of Brookhaven next year.

The State Charter Schools Commission on Thursday granted a charter for the Brookhaven Innovation Academy, which has two city council members on a governing board of 12. The city’s development authority is considering a $2.8 million purchase of a building that would house the school.

Other cities, prohibited by the Georgia constitution from operating their own schools, are watching this new charter school because the partnership between a city and a school could be a road map to a new educational model.

The commission last year denied the Brookhaven petitioners over concerns of a conflict of interest: at that point, all members of the governing board were members of the city’s leadership, and there were concerns about non-Brookhaven residents being excluded from a state charter school with a statewide attendance zone.

But the petitioners returned with a new proposal that expands outreach to high-poverty communities, especially Hispanic areas, and includes board members from outside Brookhaven.

State charter commission member Tony Lowden said after the unanimous vote of approval that he was pleased by the petition’s statement that the school was “really going to reach out for diversity.” He added that charters have a higher bar than traditional public schools, and must serve students “better than the failing schools they come from.”