News & Updates

MJI argues for parents of charter students in chancery hearing

A diverse public school system, with many different types of public schools benefiting all students, is authorized under Mississippi’s Constitution

Mississippi Justice Institute works to protect the rights of parents and students in Mississippi’s landmark education lawsuit

(JACKSON) – “Today, the Mississippi Justice Institute argued on behalf of students attending charter public schools and their parents, against a lawsuit that seeks to limit the educational opportunities of these students and trap them in failing schools.  Parents know what is best for their children and they should have the right to choose how their children are best educated,” said Mike Hurst, Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute.

Hurst continued, “These parents are also taxpayers and the Mississippi Constitution authorizes their tax dollars to be used in allowing their children to attend non-traditional public schools that truly meet their needs.  If the Southern Poverty Law Center prevails in its lawsuit to shut down charter public schools, other non-traditional public schools would also shut down, including Mississippi’s agricultural schools, alternative schools, the Mississippi School for Math and Science and the Mississippi Schools for the Arts.  Furthermore, the State would no longer be able to use local or state tax dollars to take over and run failing traditional public schools through conservatorships. Fortunately, the Mississippi Constitution is on the side of parents and children and we are confident the constitutional authority of our state legislature to construct and manage our public school system will be upheld.”

Parties made oral arguments Tuesday before Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas in a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against the funding mechanism for Mississippi charter public schools. Judge Thomas took the arguments under advisement and will issue his decision in the future. The Court gave parties until May 10 to file any findings of facts and conclusions of law, with rebuttals due by June 21.

(For a full list of motions in the case visit: http://www.msjustice.org/case/charter-schools/)

Mississippi Center for Public Policy President Forest Thigpen said, “Parents are responsible for their children’s education. The Southern Poverty Law Center argues the government should cut funding to public charter schools, forcing parents to send their children to schools that do not meet their academic and related needs. Improving educational outcomes is one of the most important ways to lift children out of poverty, and charter schools offer that hope to parents who want a better future for their children. With this lawsuit, it appears as though the Southern Poverty Law Center wants to perpetuate, not alleviate, southern poverty.”

Thigpen continued, “Parents who have enough money to move to a better district or to send their children to private schools already have options; charter schools primarily serve families who cannot afford those options. Today, the Mississippi Justice Institute fought for the option of local parents who want to send their children to local public charter schools funded by their tax dollars.”

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