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Voters Sue Over 'Misleading' Charter School Ballot Language

The lawsuit alleges that the preamble and the question on the Nov. 6 ballot is biased in favor of approval of the measure.

A public school teacher and Atlanta minister have filed a lawsuit in Fulton Superior Court against members of the state of Georgia government over the language of the Nov. 6 ballot as it pertains to charter schools.

The lawsuit, filed by Dalton teacher Beverly Hedges and Rev. Timothy McDonald, senior pastor at First Iconium Baptist Church in East Atlanta, names Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp as co-defendants. The complaint alleges that Gov. Deal used language in the preamble to the ballot question and the ballot question itself that is misleading and that was not passed by the General Assembly.

This is how the ballot language currently appears:

Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public school options.

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state and local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?

Do you think the ballot language for Amendment 1 is biased? Vote in the poll and tell us in the comments!

“Gov. Deal knows that the truth about what Amendment 1 [the charter school amendment] will do is not popular with Georgia voters, so he wrote a trick question and placed it on Georgia ballots,” said Bryan Long, executive director of Better Georgia in a press release.

“The question voters will see sounds like a miracle solution for fixing Georgia’s troubled school system. It’s not. It’s an open invitation for out-of-state charter school corporations to profit from Georgia tax dollars. It will create a new, costly and unelected state commission with the power to use tax dollars to pick which companies will profit off our students.”

The press release goes on to say that polling has discovered that the current ballot language would shift the vote on Amendment 1 by as much as ten percent.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction on the vote for the amendment, pending rewriting of the ballot language.

Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Families for Better Public Schools, has responded to the lawsuit filed against the governor.

"The anti-charter side cannot even get the ballot language correct when they are complaining about it. The question asks voters if they support “local or state” approval, not “local and state” approval as their press release indicates, and that one word makes a big difference," he said.

"This is another attempt by the anti-charter opposition to make this election about everything but the issue at hand."

To read the full text of the lawsuit, see the attached PDF.

Kiri Walton October 31, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I haven't voted yet and am still undecided about this charter amendment. What are you all's thoughts on this?
Edi November 01, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Of course I am for more choice. Why wouldn't I be? It's okay to get all upset about women's choice to abort, which has no chance of being ended, perhaps at most limited to 6 months, which seems perfectly reasonable, but it's not okay to allow parents the choice to send their kids to the best schools they can find? Weird, unless you realize it's the unions that are worried about their revenue far more than they are about educating children or allowing teachers to offer their skills more broadly.
Dot Wiggins November 01, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I am absolutely voting YES. I don't see how our school system can continue as it has, with no accountability. The BOE at the local level should not have ALL the control, they will naturally shut down any competition, as they have been doing. This will allow PARENTS to have more say in the education their child receives. How can anyone think that the county has their child's best interest in mind? Some individuals may, but the corrupt powers that be do not and have not for decades.
Atlanta Parent November 01, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I supported it in early voting. More choices and accountability are positive things for our schools.

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