Class Seeks to Block Georgia Ballot Measure

     ATLANTA (CN) — A ballot measure that would give Georgia the authority to temporarily step in and run chronically failing public schools contains misleading language and violates the state constitution, a class action claims.
     Gov. Nathan Deal proposed creating an “Opportunity School District” to try to salvage failing schools that persistently score below 60 on the Georgia Department of Education’s accountability measure, the College and Career Performance Index.
     Deal said the district would absorb no more than 20 schools per year, and would govern no more than 100 at any given time.
     Schools would stay in the district for no less than 5 years but no more than 10 years, and would then return to local control.
     The state General Assembly passed the constitutional amendment resolution and the implementing legislation during the 2015 legislative session.
     It now requires a majority approval by Georgia voters in the 2016 general election to be enacted.
     But in a complaint filed Sept. 27 in Fulton County Superior Court, lead plaintiffs Timothy McDonald, Kimberly Brooks and Melissa Ladd claim that while the ballot language for the proposal promises the state will “improve student performance … through increased community involvement” the amendment would do the opposite.
     “The proposed amendment separates local school boards from their constituents and removes local control of these schools,” the plaintiffs say.
     Instead, an “unelected and unaccountable” state agency will be in charge of all aspects and decisions for Georgia schools, they say.
     Louisiana and Tennessee adopted similar takeover programs, which the plaintiffs say failed to fix the public schools in those states.
     The plaintiffs, who are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, are represented by Atlanta-based attorney Gerald Weber.

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