Gwinnett school board votes to oppose charter school amendment

Gwinnett County school officials formally stepped back into the fight Thursday night over state-approved charter schools.

On a 5-0 vote, the school board members passed a resolution, calling a proposed charter school constitutional amendment an effort to "erode local control of public schools" and urging its defeat in November.

Board member Robert McClure said the amendment threatens the long-standing partnership between local school systems and the state in public education.

If the amendment passes, McClure argued state officials "will no longer be our partner. They will be our competitors."

"It will defund local school systems into oblivion," he said.

The board vote follows an announcement Tuesday by State Superintendent John Barge, a Republican, that he's opposed to the amendment. If the amendment is approved, it would reinstate the state's authority to create charter schools. Gov. Nathan Deal has accused Barge of going back on a campaign pledge.

Critics say the amendment defies the principle of local control and is part of an anti-public education movement.

The Cherokee County school board passed a resolution in April, opposing the amendment. Other school boards and PTA groups are said to be organizing to fight the amendment.

The Gwinnett board's opposition is not surprising.

A successful lawsuit filed by the Gwinnett school system is what triggered the drafting of the constitutional amendment by the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Siding with Gwinnett school officials, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission did not have the authority to approve and fund charter schools over local school boards' objections.

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