Parents and Kids Fight to Save Charter Schools
Recently, the Mississippi Justice Institute began representing a group of parents of students attending charter schools in Jackson, by filing a motion to intervene as defendants in a lawsuit pushed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against funding for free public charter schools.
The parents, all residents of Jackson, have children both in Jackson Public Schools and in ReImagine Prep and Smilow Prep, free public charter schools.
“My husband and I are homeowners. We pay our taxes. Our taxes should support our children’s public education, whether they are in a traditional school or in a free, public charter school. We are here today for our kids and for a choice in their education,” said one parent, Gladys Overton at a press conference announcing the action on August 10, 2017. She continued, “This is about them and their future – nothing else. We simply want an opportunity for our voices to be heard. We will fight for the right to choose a public school for our children that meets their needs.”
Another parent, Tiffany Minor, also spoke at the August 10th press conference, “Like all parents, I want my child to have the kind of education that will allow her to pursue her dreams. Why would someone try to take that away from her? I should be able to choose where my children go to school. I’m here today for my daughter. The lawsuit that was filed threatens to close her new school and send her back to the district that failed her. My family needs this public option, and I intend to fight for it.”
Mike Hurst, Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute, said, “Today, brave men, women and children, are stepping forward and speaking out for their rights by filing this motion to intervene in the recent lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Free, public charter schools are changing the lives of these students in Jackson. These parents and kids are simply asking for a chance to have their voices heard in the courtroom on an issue that directly impacts their lives and the future of these children and we at the Mississippi Justice Institute intend to stand by them and fight for them.”
Update on September 28, 2016:
On September 28, 2016, we argued in Hinds County Chancery Court that our clients, parents of kids attending free, public charter schools, should be allowed to intervene in the lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Despite intense opposition from BOTH the SPLC and the Jackson Public School system, Judge Dewayne Thomas granted our motion to intervene as defendants! Kids in charter schools and their parents now have a voice in the courtroom involving a lawsuit that directly affects their lives.
Update on October 4, 2016:
The judge issued a scheduling order and trial order today for the case. The relevant dates are as follows:
December 5, 2016 – designation and notice of experts
December 28, 2016 – deadline for all discovery to be completed
January 30, 2017 – all dispositive motions due
February 13, 2017 – responses to dispositive motions due
February 20, 2017 – replies to responses to dispositive motions due
April 4, 2017 – oral argument on all dispositive motions
May 22, 2017 – trial begins
Update on February 13, 2017:
The Plaintiffs, State Defendants, and Defendant-Intervenors filed Motions for Summary Judgment (in various forms), asking the court to rule on the legal merits of the case. These motions and attachments can be found below. In our Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and Opposition to SPLC’s Motion (Doc. No. 53), MJI rebuts the factual mischaracterizations made by the Southern Poverty Law Center and argues that the Charter School Act of 2013 is constitutional because our Constitution allows our Legislature to create and authorize charter schools, based on Supreme Court precedent upholding the “local tax, local benefit” rule, and charter schools are “free schools” under the plan, express wording of our Constitution. Pursuant to an Order of the Court dated January 24, 2017 (Doc. No. 42), Responses to these various motions are due on February 27, 2017, with Replies to Responses due on March 9, 2017. A hearing on the motions is still scheduled for April 4, 2017.