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.

An East Atlanta church minister and a public school teacher 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 the Rev. Timothy McDonald, senior pastor at First Iconium Baptist Church in East Atlanta, and Dalton teacher Beverly Hedges, 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?

“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.

ConcernedAtlantan October 31, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Classy, attack the people making the argument, instead of addressing the argument itself. Well, Bert's response helped me decided to vote no.
Scott_Grant_Park_East_Side November 01, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Vote yes unless you want more of the same failing, urban schools. Give intown kids an option.
Kirkwood Resident November 01, 2012 at 11:18 AM
How about vote no and keep the same process for charter schools we have now? I don't get it, why give more power to states versus local? We have a process now for charter schools. Does it not work? Can someone explain how this voting yes will make that process better?
Michele Brown November 01, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Thanks for the lawsuit. I voted yes based on the current language, but my intent was to vote no on state control. It was confusing.
Meagan Ann Boeff November 01, 2012 at 12:41 PM
So glad someone is suing over this. The wording for voting selection is sleezy too. When selecting no, the confirmation on the e-ballot asks "You are against improving student performance?" This charter school parent is voting no.
Kirkwood Resident2 November 01, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Yes, you are correct, we currently have a system where the local school boards can approve local charter schools. However, we live in a very red state, with very blue school boards. So you have several situations where the community in a given neighborhood are not happy with the traditional public school and would like another option. But the school boards are very much against creating competition. So the charter school application will never be approved. This ammendment allows an alternative path to approving the charter school.
jeff November 06, 2012 at 07:25 PM
@ kirkwood res. give an example of what you mean. Are you saying you want schools to be ideologically ran rather then teaching all required subjects. Like not teaching evolution because many "red" folks don't believe in it? This bill is not good for schools. It is strictly written for monetary purposes. Face it, this model made FL 4.5 billion last year alone but did nothing to improve their sub par education system. Do not be fooled.


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