State school superintendent says ruling on charter schools won't have immediate impact; appeal planned

By Glenn Minnis | Jan 25, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — Even as the battle over public funding for certain kinds of charter schools appears headed for the state Supreme Court, Louisiana Education Superintendent John White is vowing to continue supporting such institutions, no matter what.

Earlier this month, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a 2015 lower court’s ruling in finding that local and state tax dollars being designated for so-called Type 2 charter schools is unconstitutional.

Type 2 schools are self-governed public schools that operate independently of any local district and have been certified by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Up until now and before the Louisiana Association of Educators formally filed suit naming the Louisiana Department of Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education as plaintiffs, the institutions have been at least partly funded with tax monies from the state’s Minimum Foundation Program.

White has insisted the court’s most recent ruling won’t have any immediate impact on normal operations.

While expressing confidence that the state high court will agree to hear the case and provide clarity on the issue once and for all, White is letting it be known that he plans to remain fully committed to the concept of Type 2 charters even if it comes to mean having to find a new means of funding.  

In a 3-2 decision, the 1st Circuit concluded that the roughly 40 Type 2s across the state should not be considered public institutions, and thus are not entitled to the more than $80 million they have to this point annually received in public funding.

As he prepares for more legal wrangling, White at least knows that he will have the support of some of the state’s most influential leaders.

"The decision handed down from the appeals court is stunning and wrong," Coalition Chairwoman Christin White-Kaiser told The Louisiana Record in a statement. "It also endangers the rights of parents to choose the best educational option for their child." touts itself as a national alliance of parents fighting to ensure their rights in making the best school choices for their children are preserved. White-Kaiser estimated that as many as 13,000 local charter-school students could be adversely impacted by the ruling.

“We urge the state board of education to appeal this decision and let the Louisiana Supreme Court bring final clarity to the case,” she said. “We are confident the Supreme Court will side with the students and families, not the teacher’s union, and assert the constitutional guarantees and rights of students attending public charter schools.”

Run independently and by nonprofit boards, most charter schools are publicly funded and receive certain liberties as long as they maintain designated standards. Supporters of the system argue that Type 2s simply give parents across the state another option in striving to assure the best education for their children.

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