NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Charter school Great Hearts Academy has decided to withdraw their application from Metro Nashville.
In a statement released Wednesday officials from the school said, "It is evident at this point that, with this hostile board as the charter authorizer, a successful school opening would be impossible for Great Hearts even if we were able to obtain a charter."
The Arizona-based charter operation had been fighting to open schools in Metro Nashville for several months. School board members turned down the school's charter once again Tuesday night citing diversity and transportation concerns.
The 5 to 4 vote may take the Great Hearts debate from the board room to the state house.
"We've been talking about state wide authorizer, authorizer reform, for the last a couple of years. I've been warning (lawmakers) very privately, but I've been warning them (that) if we don't make changes we could see this on the horizon," Matt Throckmorton, Executive Director of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association said. "With Great Hearts it's just so obvious that we're now getting some responses saying yeah we probably need to talk about this."
Metro assembled a charter school committee to review all of the applications. They ultimately recommended that Great Hearts be approved. But district leaders strayed from that, instead saying the application raised some concerns and asked the school board to deny the application. Metro says it's all a part of the review process.
"We are one of the model authorizers in the country," said Carol Swann, Coordinator of Metro's Charter Schools. "We really have worked very hard to make our review thorough, to make it fair."
On appeal, the State Board of Education recommended Great Hearts approval with conditions. Still the school board deferred and then denied the application, even after the State Department of Education said failure to approve the charter would be in violation of state law. Although the Department has yet to impose any type of sanctions.
Metro stands by its process calling it rigorous and not flawed. Charter school proponents say the decision needs to be taken out of their hands.
"We are looking at and we're going to bring to the legislature some really thoughtful proposals that include a statewide authorizer. If passed, according to a statement from the Arizona based charter school, they could be back.
"We are hopeful that the State will take action so that, in the future, Great Hearts can reapply to a different, impartial charter authorizer."