Jackson area residents Charles Araujo, Evelyn Garner Araujo, Cassandra Overton-Welchlin, John Sewell, Kimberly Sewell, Lutaya Stewart and Arthur Brown filed the suit and are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the effort. The attorney is Will Bardwell, son of Better Schools and Better Jobs Director Patsy Brumfield, who is now with the online publication Mississippi Today. Mississippi Today posted a piece on the lawsuit shortly after it was filed.
The suit has been assigned to Chancellor Denise Owens and it challenges the constitutionality of assigning tax dollars to reimburse charter schools, overseen by the MS Charter School Authorizing Board, for providing education for students in largely underperforming school districts. Jackson Public School District currently has a “D” rating by the MS Department of Education.
This lawsuit comes not long after some outrage expressed by the MS Department of Education into the systemic failures of basic operations in JPS. Kingfish provided a “no holds barred” analysis digging through a 200 page+ audit that found dozens of incidents of substandard discipline and physical plant conditions at JPS.
From the Y’allPolitics Memory Division, remember that in 2015, there was a lawsuit that was filed in Hinds County over the wording of the Initiative 42 ballot by Adrian Shipman. Judge Kidd found for the plaintiffs in record time. It was appealed to the MSSC and was doomed for failure when the Initiative 42 forces withdrew the lawsuit after it was determined that timing of the ballot challenge would have disenfranchised military voters. If history is any guide, it’s safe to say that almost regardless of the facts or arguments, the pro-Initiative 42 forces will prevail at the Hinds County Chancery Court in this case. It will get immediately appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, where it will likely die. Meanwhile, the state of Mississippi will be required to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees out of the general fund (that could fund teachers, books, school buses and improvements) to defend a lawsuit that will try to prevent families that have, many for the first time ever, had say about the school that their children attended that wasn’t merely based on their zip code and the lawsuit will ultimately wind up nowhere. And the craziest part is, they’re suing JPS and MS Dept of Education as a defendants, who will have to hire lawyers also to deal with the lawsuit further depleting funds for kids in the classroom.