Thursday, August 26, 2004

Charter schools suit reinstated

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Opponents of charter schools can renew arguments that the publicly funded, privately run schools violate parts of the Ohio Constitution, according to an appeals court ruling that returned a lawsuit to a lower court judge.

Arguments must be heard on claims that charter schools aren't subject to the same academic standards as traditional public schools, the 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals in Columbus ruled Tuesday.

The court also said the lower court judge must decide whether charter schools receive a portion of local property taxes in addition to state aid in violation of the constitution.

However, the appeals court rejected a key part of the opponents' argument, that charter schools aren't part of the constitutionally required system of common schools.

A coalition of teachers unions and others opposed to charter schools say they drain needed money from public schools while failing to meet academic standards.

The state will provide about $325 million this year to the schools.

Judge Patrick McGrath of Franklin County Common Pleas Court ruled last year that charter opponents could not prove any facts to warrant a decision in their favor.

Charter opponents announced a plan Wednesday to persuade lawmakers to stop the creation of further charter schools. The Coalition for Public Education said about one-third of charter schools are now in academic emergency.

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