A judge is weighing conflicting arguments on Mississippi’s charter-school law: from parents who say it’s unconstitutional and should be overturned and government officials who say the parents have no legal standing to sue.
Lawyers for a group of parents told Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas that the law is unconstitutional because charter schools divert property taxes from the Jackson district and are not overseen by a local or state superintendent.
“A school district can never send its tax revenue to schools outside its control,” said Will Bardwell, a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, who represents the challengers. He asked Thomas to permanently block the law.
State government and charter school supporters defended the law. They argue the parents represented by Bardwell don’t have legal standing to sue, that funding is transferred from district to district in other situations, and that schools aren’t required to be overseen by a state or local superintendent.
Thomas is likely to rule sometime after June 21.
Mississippi has three charter schools in Jackson attended by a total of 500 students. The schools have received $1.5 million in tax money from the Jackson district in the past two years. The law’s supporters warn that if Thomas rules for the challengers, those schools would close.