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Bill Could Change the Way Charter School Teachers are Evaluated

Bill faces subcommittee hearing this morning

A new bill could change the way charter school teachers - such as those that teach locally at Peachtree Charter Middle School and Kingsley and Chesnut Charter Elementary Schools – are evaluated and can be let go.

Teachers at charter schools could soon be suspended or fired in the same manner as their public school counterparts, if a bill currently before the Georgia General Assembly becomes law.

Charter school principals have the authority to remove or suspend staff based on their own evaluations. Senate Bill 207, scheduled for a Thursday morning subcommittee hearing, would require charter schools to comply with the same state law and personnel procedures as public school administrators.

The bill is sponsored by state Sens. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) and Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta).

The bill has drawn fire from the Georgia Charter Schools Association, which is “vehemently opposed to the bill,” said Andrew Lewis, executive vice president.

“The idea behind charter schools is that they’re given greater flexibility and autonomy in exchange for higher accountability,” Lewis said. “This bill would rescind a significant portion of that autonomy, and would stifle the growth of independent, flexible charter institutions. It would restrict the autonomy and independence of Georgia’s charter schools in making staffing decisions which are best for the school.”

The bill is currently before a subcommittee of the Senate Education & Youth Committee, which is set to discuss it Thursday morning. If passed by the subcommittee, the full committee will vote on the bill later in the day.

The bill’s chances in subcommittee “will depend on what Sen. Fort has to say,” said  state Sen. Fran Millar (R-40 Dunwoody), who chairs the Senate Education & Youth Committee. “We already have certain fair-dismissal standards in the state, and we’ll have to hear what the Georgia Professional Standards Commission has to say.” 

The bill must clear both the subcommittee and the main committee by Friday, in order to be considered on the Senate floor before legislative crossover day, which is Wednesday, March 16.

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