Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas has ruled to uphold Mississippi’s charter school law after the statue was challenged.
On Tuesday Judge Thomas ruled that sending tax money to charter schools is acceptable, even though these schools are overseen by a private board and not a school district. The law was challenged by a group of individuals who were represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, however Judge Thomas ruled in favor of the defendants on all counts.
“This court cannot find Plaintiffs have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that [charter school funding code section] is unconstitutional.” Said Judge Thomas.
Reaction from Charter School forces was swift.
Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI) Director Shadrack White, who represents the parents of charter school students, said, “This is a critical victory for the parents and their children who attend charter schools in Mississippi. Judge Thomas saw that the constitution does not trap my clients in their traditional public schools when public charter schools provide a better option. These parents know what’s best for their children.”
Grant Callen President of Empower Mississippi calls this a “great day for children in Mississippi and a great day for charter schools.”
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said “I appreciate the Court for recognizing the Legislature’s responsibility to improve the education attainment level of all students. It’s time for the coalition of the status quo to stop fighting us in courts and join us in focusing on educating all Mississippi children.”
This lawsuit was originally filed against Governor Bryant, the MS Department of Education and Jackson Public Schools causing thousands of dollars to be expended by local and state governmental entities
Given SPLC’s litigation history, it’s likely to believe that they will continue the process and appeal the decision to a higher court. But this is a MAJOR victory for charter school forces in Mississippi and the kids and parents that use them.
As of press time, SPLC had not posted a comment on their site. However, their staffers in Mississippi commented to Mississippi Today who quoted them as follows . . .
“This decision is disappointing, but it does not end our fight for Mississippi’s children. We plan to appeal this case to the Mississippi Supreme Court because the future of our schools depends on it,” Will Bardwell, an attorney for the SPLC representing the parent group, said in a statement.
“By the time the Supreme Court hears this case, Jackson schoolchildren will have lost millions of public dollars to privately operated charter schools. We owe it to every public school student in Mississippi to continue this fight.”