Petition Asks State To Reconsider $3.4M Penalty - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Petition Asks State To Reconsider $3.4M Penalty

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A petition with hundreds of signatures has been circulating on the Internet asking the state not to penalize Metro School students after the school board's decision against Great Hearts Academy.

It asks the Tennessee Department of Education not to cut $3.4 million from school funding as a penalty for not approving a charter school application. There are already nearly 500 signatures for the Internet petition.

One of the organizers hopes it will persuade the Tennessee Department of Education to reconsider withholding $3.4 million in BEP money from Metro Schools.

"We're hoping the commissioner hears the people who have kids in the system and people like me who are products of the public school system," said Sarah Martin, petition organizer.

The state Department of Education said it would make the funding cut after the Metro School Board repeatedly rejected an application by Great Hearts Academy to build a charter school in West Nashville. Some board members had concerns about Great Hearts not matching Metro's diversity plan. The board rejected the application a second time - even after state officials said Metro would be breaking state law.

Governor Bill Haslam backed the department of education's decision.

"It's a question of if we as the state should we as a state then totally ignore when the law is violated," said Governor Haslam.

Metro said the lost money lost is used to pay for utilities, transportation and maintenance costs affecting 81,000 students. The effect on students is the focus of many comments written on the petition.

Joan Lorber of Nashville wrote, "Do not penalize teachers and students by this penalty. Losing these funds will trickle down to them.

Jane Mantey said, "What happened to not having Big Gov't meddle in the lives of its citizens? "

"We want to maintain local control over our public schools and we do not want the students to be affected by whatever the state's political agenda is," said Martin.

Metro is running out of time to convince state officials to change their minds The nearly $3.4 million check normally on arrives on the 15th of the month - that's next Monday.

School Board chairwoman Cheryl Mayes has written a second letter to Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman asking him not to make the cut. The letter tells him the board is committed to complying with state laws, including those that implement charter schools.

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