Atlanta Parents Fighting for Charters Over Superintendent’s Objections

Atlanta parents are preparing for battle with the city's Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis over his recommendation that the school board vote to reject all charter school applications currently under review. Parents have organized a communication campaign to contact board members over e-mail and phone to make sure that members consider all sides instead of blindly accepting Davis' recommendation.

Davis said that the district should not be committing to funding more charters until it resolves the court case over the Unfunded Pension Liability payments in which it finds itself embroiled. Davis pointed out that the cost of the case is being disproportionally borne by traditional public schools, and he felt that forcing them to shoulder more while at the same time stripping them of resources by funding charters would be unfair.

However, parents who support two charter schools, Atlanta Classical Academy and Hinds Feet Montessori School of the Arts Charter Schools, are launching an aggressive campaign to persuade school board members to reject the superintendent's decision. Both of the schools' applications are up for vote on Monday.

"Part of it's personal. We have three school age kids. Part of its principal, we believe in school choice," parent Alan Hamilton told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman.

"I think closing the doors for charter schools is not something positive, especially for a thriving education environment like Atlanta," Morgan Hamilton said.

Hamilton is a board member of the Atlanta Classical Academy, which the board approved over Erroll's objections to open as a charter in the northwest part of the city this year. The ACA has been years in the making, and Hamilton, along with other members of the school's board, put forth every effort to make their voices heard before Monday's vote.

According to Hamilton, that included calling out parents who wish to enroll their children in ACA to contact individual board members by any means possible, making their case that rejecting the charter applications will do substantial damage to Atlanta's students.

In a statement to Channel 2 Action News, Superintendent Erroll Davis wrote:

"I have to think about all students, which includes both charter and traditional students. I am working to eliminate the inequities that currently exist. Charter schools are APS schools; therefore, soon they will have access to the same professional development, teacher resources and internet-based services as our teachers at traditional schools. In the same spirit, as we work to spread assets more equitably, we need to make sure the liabilities are also equitably spread."

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