Effort to Create New Authority for Tennessee Charter Schools Delayed

Feb 20, 2013

A bill to create an authorizing body for charter schools in Tennessee has been delayed. The sponsor now says he’s listening to critics, who say the legislation unfairly singles out Nashville and Memphis.

As written, the bill would give charter schools a way to open in Tennessee’s two largest urban areas without asking the school board – officially known as the local education authority or LEA. 

Rep. Mark White is the sponsor and says he could be on-board with a true statewide charter authorizer if local school boards do the initial vetting.

“If we go back to the LEAs – letting them have first input on this – this will be a statewide application,” said Rep. White.

At that point, there would be little difference in a statewide authorizer and the current appeals process. White says he just wants to reinforce that the state has the final say-so.

The legislation is a priority of Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell and has created a backlash from many elected officials in Davidson County who accuse the state of seizing local control.

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