Parents and Kids Fight to Save Charter Schools
The Mississippi Justice Institute represents a group of parents of students attending charter schools in Jackson against the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is suing to shut down charter schools in Mississippi.
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, 2016. 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.”
The case currently sits before the Hinds County Chancery Court.
Update on September 28, 2016:
On September 28, 2016, MJI 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 (SPLC). 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 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 MJI’s 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. MJI also argues that charter schools are “free schools” under the plain, 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.
Update on December 14, 2017:
Chancellor Dewayne Thomas of the Hinds County Chancery Court has heard arguments on all the substantive issues in the suit. He held a status conference on December 14th to review the status of the case, though he did not issue an order. The parties currently await his ruling on their summary judgment motions.