Saturday, January 06, 2007

TPS Board Considers Attack on Charter Schools

The relationship between charter schools and Tulsa Public Schools has been described as a "shotgun wedding". It was a bad idea to only allow the local school districts to be the sponsor of charter schools. But at least we got the charter school act passed and it has been the law in Oklahoma since 1999.

As I have pointed out before, Tulsa has been stuck on 3 charter schools since the laws enactment and OKC has at least 10. Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences, Dove Science Academy and Deborah Brown Elementary are the 3 Tulsa charter schools. They are exemplary! TULSA NEEDS MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS!

The TPS Board will consider a resolution regarding charter schools this Monday evening that will make more Tulsa charter schools impossible. Here is the text of the resolution:


BOARD RESOLUTION ON CHARTER SCHOOLS

I move that the Board of Education adopt the following resolution as to charter
schools and the Tulsa School District:

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act (the “Act”) provides that charter schools
may only be sponsored by certain Oklahoma school districts; and

WHEREAS, the school districts which are required to consider sponsoring charter
schools are limited in number based on student population in the school district and
population of the county or adjacent county in which the school district exists (i.e., only school districts that have an average daily student membership of 5,000 students or more, and that are located in Tulsa County or Oklahoma County OR in a county that is contiguous with Tulsa or Oklahoma County can serve as a charter school sponsor); and

WHEREAS, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, there are only
20 school districts in the State of Oklahoma that meet the population limits provided for in the Act; and

WHEREAS, of these twenty school districts, five are located in counties that are not
contiguous with Tulsa or Oklahoma County and thus are not subject to the terms of the
Charter Schools Act; and

WHEREAS, the Charter Schools Act expressly exempts two school districts (the
Norman School District and the Yukon School District) from coverage of the Act even
though these two districts would otherwise be subject to the terms of the Act; and

WHEREAS, as a result, only thirteen school districts in Oklahoma are required to
consider charter school applications for sponsorship; and

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Constitution specifically prohibits the legislature from
passing "special or local" laws regulating the affairs of school districts; and

WHEREAS, due to the population, geographic and specifically-named exemptions, the
Charter Schools Act is an unconstitutional "local or special" law; and

WHEREAS, Tulsa Public Schools made an effort in 2006 to bring these concerns to the
attention of the Oklahoma Legislature with the intent of correcting the constitutional defects of the Act; and

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Legislature made no changes to the Act in 2006 relevant to
the constitutional defects of the Act.

WHEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that effective immediately and continuing until
such time as the Board of Education rescinds this resolution, the following shall govern this Board's actions towards charter schools in this District.
Pending the final resolution of the constitutionality of the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act by either legislation or litigation:

1. The Board of Education will consider charter renewals, for a period not longer
than three (3) fiscal years, for schools currently under charter with Tulsa Public
Schools pursuant to the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act; provided, however, that
any such renewed charter must contain a provision that, following any final
decision by a court of competent jurisdiction that the Charter Schools Act is
unconstitutional, the existing charter shall immediately be null and void with all
funding obligations by the District to immediately cease.

2. The Board of Education will not consider requests for renewal of existing charters
to the extent that they propose to expand operations to serve more students than
are provided for or permitted under the current charter.

3. Subject to the limitations in this resolution, future requests for renewal of an
existing charter will remain subject to review, amendment, approval or denial (as
may be appropriate to each request) as provided for under standards of Tulsa
Public Schools as they may change from time to time.

4. The Board of Education will not consider a charter school application for any
school not under charter with Tulsa Public Schools as of the date this resolution
is adopted.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the renewal of any existing charter does not
waive this School District's right to challenge the constitutionality of the Charter Schools Act at any time in the future, whether in response to litigation initiated by other parties or on its own initiative through an appropriate legal challenge authorized by the Board of Education.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that on the District’s receipt of any charter school
application, the Superintendent of Schools, or designee, shall promptly notify the
applicant, in writing, that the application has been rejected and shall provide the
applicant with a copy of this Resolution which shall serve as the reason for the rejection.

Approved this _______ day of January, 2007.


TPS and their lawyers continuously pound the drum with the mantra that the Oklahoma Charter School Act is unconstitutional. Courts have had several opportunities in the past few years to find just that, but they have side-stepped the issue, or as in the case last year, a similar case was found to be constitutional. Its high time the legislature stepped in and solved this issue.

The current act is a test case and it has been proven that charter schools can and are excellent public schools and worth of public support and expansion. Expand the charter school act to the entire state and see the entrepreneural spirit of Okies come alive!

Allow the State Department of Education, higher education institutions, and city councils to also be charter school sponsors, and have the public funding be a distinct allocation from the traditional public school by the legislature, like career tech is now.

In the meantime, make plans to go the the Education Service Center on Monday evening and sign up to speak in support of the Tulsa charter school effort. It's high time Tulsans got up and spoke out about such an important issue.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, TPS is the judicial branch of our state, too?

How indignant of that bunch!

They've 'ruled' on a Constitutional issue. If they have a problem with the law, they should be in court.

See, we should be voting each one out as they come up.

D.Schuttler said...

If I understand correctly, Dove will be non-renewed after 3 years automatically if they even renew it the next two years?

Steven H. Roemerman Sr said...

I thought TPS was the district of choice...I guess not.

Anne Hutchinson said...

The commenters should read the entire resolution.

No charter school will be closed. All can be renewed indefinitely, though thay can't get bigger until the legal issue is resolved).

Be honest ... This resolution is not an "Attack on Charter Schools" although that certainly is a juicy headline. This is an effort by TPS for the legislature to get it right before the Supreme Court shuts down charter schools under the present, flawed act.

Who among the readers can dispute TPS's legal argument?

We all know what the legislature did was wrong. In 1999 they each said to themself, "How can I be a good conservative and look like I support charter schools without my district having to have them? I know let's stick it to Tulsa and OKC." They couldn't even get that right. The law applies only to certain districts (based on size) located in certain counties, but exempts some of those by name. For those who bother to read it, the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits "local or special" laws. The Charter School Act fails the test.

If TPS challenges the law, it will be declared invalid and there will be NO charter schools. TPS is not mounting a legal challenge, they're just maintaining the status quo until the Court (or, better yet, the Legislature) acts.

No charter school is being closed, though TPS could legally do so if the law is unconstitutional as they say. It is because TPS is NOT the final legal authority that existing charters are not being closed. The Board debated doing just that last year. They are NOT proposing to do so now. Arguing that charters are good misses the point entirely.

Commenters should get off TPS's back and get on the Legislature's case. They're the ones with the power to fix this. If they don't, sooner or later the Supreme Court will and charter school supporters won't like that answer. If I'm wrong, don't tell me charter schools are good and TPS is evil ... tell me why TPS is legally wrong. That's the real issue.

Anne Hutchinson

Anonymous said...

From the TulsaChigger Feb 14, 2006 ...

"I know that Matt Livingood is anti-charter school and will lead the charge and burn up much needed tax dollars to file suit to get the Oklahoma Charter School Act declared unconstitutional."

Where's the lawsuit one year later?

Anonymous said...

Little Ms. Annie should re-read the Resolution herself (and, fwiw, I did read the entire thing the first time, and even understood it)

Start with Item #1

"1. The Board of Education will consider charter renewals, for a period not longer than three (3) fiscal years, for schools currently under charter with Tulsa Public Schools pursuant to the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act;..."

Does "a period not longer than three years" mean they will consider renewal after three years as Ms. Annie states? I don't think so.

Seems pretty clear to me.

Anonymous said...

Per Ms. Annie:
"...the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits "local or special" laws. The Charter School Act fails the test."

Appears Ms. Annie has also ruled.

The fact is, this 'test' has never occurred. And, while, perhaps, there may be compelling arguments, it is by no means a done deal. TPS is acting as though they already have a ruling.

No one would doubt TPS's ability to harm Charter Schools in ways yet to be seen, if they so choose to lift funding for whatever supposition they may decide. But, it would still be wrong.

FWIW, I suspect 'Ms. Annie' is really closely associated with the TPS Board, or even one of its members.

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