Georgia Lawmaker Will Introduce a Parent Trigger Law

Right on the heels of a major victory for school choice in Georgia, at least one lawmaker wants to make it easier for parents to exercise control over their local public schools. State Representative Edward Lindsey has announced that he will be introducing a measure next year that would allow parents to take over a struggling public school and turn it into a charter.

Just last week Georgia voters agreed to enshrine a state agency that has charter approval powers into the state Constitution. This week, Lindsey hopes to go one step further and provide a similar power to the parents and guardians of Georgia students. Lindsey, who is the majority whip of the Georgia House of Representatives, hopes that a "parent trigger" style law will give parents an avenue to petition the local school board to reconstitute an underperforming school into a public charter school. According to Lindsey, such a petition will require the consent of the majority of the student households, and prior to filing a petition, a concrete charter plan must be drawn up and submitted to the board with the application to proceed.

Lindsey believes that giving parents a real power to bring change to their local district would aid in getting families more involved in both their children's education and the education system in general. As an example, he cited what happened in North Atlanta High School, where, after being sidelined, parents organized a campaign to remove the chief administrators running the school.

"What happened at North Atlanta, in terms of locking out the parents and their involvement and the school, and keeping them informed as to what is going on, kind of brings to the forefront the importance of having a law like this," Lindsey said.

Lindsey has made it clear that those looking for his parent trigger bill will not be kept waiting long. As it stands now, he is planning to introduce the measure on the first day after the General Assembly reconvenes in January 2013.

Meanwhile, even though a new state commission with the power to approve charter schools — even if their application is rejected by local school boards — was given a thumbs-up by nearly 60% of Georgia voters, the Atlanta Progressive News is reporting that the new amendment is already a target of a lawsuit.

A lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court by Beverly Hedges, a Dalton teacher; and Rev. Timothy McDonald of the First Iconium Baptist Church, on October 29, 2012, challenges the legitimacy of the referendum due to its deceptive language. No matter how the lower court rules, one side or another is likely to appeal; therefore, the case could very well end up back before the Supreme Court of Georgia, which ruled in 2011 that the GCSC was unconstitutional.

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