Gov. Nathan Deal gets authority to intervene in schools

Gov. Nathan Deal now has a legal mandate to intervene in Georgia’s lowest-performing schools.

The House of Representatives' approval Tuesday of House Bill 338 is lawmakers' response to the failure in November of Deal's referendum to create a statewide Opportunity School District for "chronically failing" schools.

Explore>>The First Priority Act allows the state to intervene in schools

The vote of 133-36 was a slight drop from the 138-37 by which the bill first passed the House at the beginning of March. The Senate amended and passed the bill last week, and the House had to ratify the changes.

The Senate made several changes, giving schools an additional year -- three total -- to show improvement before intervention by the state and tweaking the resume requirements for the new position of “chief turnaround officer,” which will report to the state education board appointed by the governor. The Senate also clarified that no for-profit companies will take over a school -- the state can only turn them over to nonprofits -- and cut by half the number of schools that would qualify for intervention in the first place, by using federal rather than state criteria to identify under-performing schools.

Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, the chief author, said after the House vote that Deal can now take on the task of improving the lowest-performing schools.