FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, Oct. 26
ATLANTA — Seven DeKalb County public charter schools won a crucial victory against DeKalb County School Board members in Fulton County Superior Court. On Thursday, Oct. 20, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter issued a summary judgment ruling in favor on all but one of the claims brought by DeKalb Agriculture Technology & Environment, DeKalb Preparatory Academy, Leadership Preparatory Academy, DeKalb PATH Academy, Tapestry Public Charter School, The GLOBE Academy, and The Museum School of Avondale Estates.
Judge Baxter found, as a matter of law, that the charter schools were entitled to recover their damages on each of these claims, which involved underfunding by the DeKalb County School District. These claims include (1) not funding the Charter Schools at or above the minimum funding set forth in their charters; (2) not providing the Charter School’s proportionate share of the state austerity funds restored in the state budget; (3) improperly withholding funds at the charter schools’ academic year midterm; (4) not providing the charter schools’ their proportionate share of federal funds, specifically for special needs students and teacher development; and (5) improperly withholding 3% of the charter schools’ funding for an “administrative fee” without providing actual administrative services. The damages for each of these claims vary, but some, including the administrative fee, span 6 years. In total, the charter schools’ claims exceed $10 million in funding that the DeKalb County School District wrongfully withheld.
“This is a win for the more than 4,000 students enrolled in DeKalb County’s public charter schools,” said Tony Roberts, President and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. “The ruling also sends a clear signal that charter schools are public schools, and all children who attend them deserve equitable funding.”
“This ruling, which is the result of litigation that has spanned two prior administrations in DeKalb County Schools, confirms that we have not been treated equitably by the District,” said Devon Christopher, a Board Member at Tapestry Public Charter School. “We continue to hope that we can grow our partnership with DeKalb and avoid having to resolve these matters in court.”
Museum School Executive Director Katherine Kelbaugh, whose school recently went through a contentious charter renewal, expressed similar optimism about the future for charters in DeKalb: “We believe that each of these charter schools offers a unique and necessary educational option for students and families in our county. This ruling helps us protect our limited resources and ensures charters will receive adequate funding from the district now and in the future.”
This key court victory reaffirms that Georgia’s 60,000 public charter school students are protected under state law. Charter schools are public schools that are entitled to equitable funding from local school boards.
About Georgia Charter Schools Association
The Georgia Charter Schools Association is a nonprofit membership organization for Georgia’s public charter schools and petitioners. Our mission is to support, foster and advocate for the development of high-quality public charter schools and networks that improve opportunities for Georgia students. We believe every child in Georgia should have equal access to a quality and transformative public education.
CONTACT: Michelle Wirth
Director of Communications
Georgia Charter Schools Association