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Clarksville-Montgomery County becomes third district to reject charter school pushed by governor

Posted: 7:50 PM, Jul 19, 2022
Updated: 2022-07-19 23:11:28-04
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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A charter school program tied to the controversial Hillsdale College suffered a third rejection by a Tennessee school board Tuesday night as the Clarksville-Montgomery County school board said it wanted nothing to do with the school pushed by Gov. Bill Lee.

With no debate, the Board of Education unanimously voted to reject the application of the Hillsdale-affiliated American Classical Academy. That follows similar votes by school boards in Rutherford County and Madison County.

The group could still appeal to the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission, which can override the local school board.

School board member Jimmie Garland said Lee needs to understand that local residents do not want a privately operated charter school siphoning taxpayer dollars from a school system that is already serving the community's needs.

"I am asking him if he sends them here, that he pay for it — not the community, not the Clarksville-Montgomery County school system, not the 200,000-plus residents of Clarksville," Garland told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

"We shouldn't have to foot that bill."

A charter review committee had recommended the rejection of the application.

They concluded that American Classical Academy had not proven to justify its plan to seek waivers exempting it from having to hire teachers with certain state-regulated minimum requirements.

This follows more than two weeks of controversy after NewsChannel 5 Investigates revealed hidden-camera video of Hillsdale President Larry Arnn badmouthing public school teachers and boasting that his charter school network planned to prove that no teaching expertise was needed, that "anybody can do it."

Lee announced a "partnership" with Hillsdale College during his State of the State Address in January, and he has asked Arnn to set up 50-100 charter schools across the state.

The governor has praised Hillsdale for its focus on "informed patriotism," although critics say the school presents a distorted, right-wing view of American history and politics.

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