Charter School Parents Want Voices Heard in Funding Lawsuit

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) –  A motion to intervene in a Southern Poverty Lawsuit regarding charter schools was filed Wednesday morning.

A group of moms wants their voices heard when it comes to the formula to fund charter schools.

In July the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against the state calling it unconstitutional to share property taxes with schools they don’t control.

“The lawsuit that was filed threatens to close her new school and send her back to the district that failed her,” says Tiffany Minor, a parent of a charter school student.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center has made a direct threat to our school and my family by challenging how free/public charter schools are funded,” says Gladys Overton, whose daughter now attends ReImagine (charter school).

There are three charter schools in the state, and they’re all in the city of Jackson. They’re operated by private and nonprofit groups but receive tax money. That’s the issue SPLC and Rep. Jarvis Dortch have with the charter school funding.

“The money is coming from local taxpayers here in Jackson, money that should be going to the entire school district and we’re talking about 2 million dollars for a few hundred students,” says state Representative Jarvis Dortch.

However, parents are praising charter schools as another avenue to free, public education.

“Though she thrived academically in her old school bullies caused her to experience anxiety and self-esteem issues. School was not a happy place for her,” says Overton.
“Since being at ReImagine, she’s grown to love school.”
“We’re not trying to take away their school. What we don’t want to see their schools or their children pitted against other children,” adds Dortch.

Southern Poverty Law Center released this statement to WJTV in regards to the motion to intervene:

– Jody Owens, managing attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Mississippi is currently funding its charter schools through an unconstitutional scheme that diverts public tax dollars from traditional public schools. Under the Charter School Act, charter schools receive public funding even though they are exempt from the oversight of the state Board of Education, the Mississippi Department of Education, and local boards of education. A school operating outside the authority of the state board of education and the local school board cannot expect to receive public taxpayer money. The state constitution is clear on this matter. It is imperative that Mississippi fulfill its obligation to adequately fund our schools, not siphon tax-payer dollars from those that are underfunded to begin with.”

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