Attorney General: Tennessee Charter School Law Constitutional


NASHVILLE (AP) – Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper has rendered a legal opinion that the state's charter school funding law is constitutional.

The Tennessean reports Cooper issued an opinion Monday that defends the 2002 law that determines how charter schools are funded.

"On its face, the Charter Schools Act does not directly or expressly require the expenditure of extra funds beyond what a (local school district) is already spending on education," Cooper wrote.

The opinion conflicts with the conclusion reached by a Metro Nashville Public Schools attorney. The school district's attorney, John Borkowski, had said the law imposes financial burdens on local school districts in violation of the state constitution.

One section of the Tennessee Constitution says lawmakers shall not impose "increased expenditure requirements on cities or counties" unless that burden is shared by the state.

Under current procedures, state and local per-pupil dollar amounts follow students to their new schools. In Nashville, the amount equals about $9,200 per student.

Metro school officials have said the transfer of students to charter schools hasn't reduced the cost of maintaining traditional schools and Borkowski opined that the state hasn't shared in those costs.

His opinion set off a debate about the cost of charter schools and led supporters and opponents of the law to ask the state attorney general to weigh in.

"It's pretty much what we expected," Metro school board member Will Pinkston said of the latest analysis. "Our lawyer issued an opinion. Their lawyer has issued a competing opinion.

"The only opinion that really matters is that of a judge and court of law. We'll hope it doesn't come to that."

Information from: The Tennessean,

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