Local News

November 1, 2012

Dalton teacher files suit over charter amendment ballot language

Beverly Hedges says language on the Nov. 6 ballot concerning the proposed charter schools amendment misleads voters.

The preamble to Amendment 1 says it “provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options.”

The ballot then asks, “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

Hedges, who teaches at Dalton’s Blue Ridge School, says the ballot leaves out some important information.

“It doesn’t tell you it takes money from public schools. It doesn’t tell you that it allows for-profit companies to manage charter schools. It doesn’t tell you these decisions will be made by an unelected commission appointed by the governor,” Hedges said.

Supporters of the amendment deny that if passed it would mean less money for public schools and say that legislation has been drafted that would specify that state money going to local schools couldn’t be reduced. But the amendment itself doesn’t address funding.

Hedges and the Rev. Timothy McDonald, senior pastor at First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, filed a lawsuit on Monday in the Superior Court of Fulton County asking for a declaration that the ballot language is purposely misleading. Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

“We already have charter schools in Georgia. Local school boards can create them. This just takes decisions away from local elected officials and puts it in the hands of unelected people in Atlanta,” Hedges said.

She said she decided to file the lawsuit after talking to her sister, who’d voted for Amendment 1 during advance voting.

“When I explained to her what it really does, she felt so bad,” Hedges said.

She said she doesn’t want other people to vote on the amendment without knowing all of the facts.

Saying it is a pending legal matter, officials with the governor’s office and the lieutenant governor’s office referred questions to the state attorney general.

“We believe that the ballot language complies with the law and will fully carry out our constitutional duty to defend the state in this litigation,” said Lauren Kane, director of communications for Attorney General Sam Olens.

To view a copy of the lawsuit, go to bl-1.com/click/load/BzZcZARjWmgHYQdh.

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