States

Atlanta Schools Hire Architect of Contentious School Takeover Legislation

By Corey Mitchell — August 11, 2015 1 min read

The chief architect of Georgia’s proposed school takeover law will advise the Atlanta schools on how to avoid becoming the legislation’s primary target.

The Atlanta school board hired Erin Hames, Gov. Nathan Deal’s deputy chief of staff for policy and legislative affairs, on a $96,000 consulting contract, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Hames is leaving Deal’s office at the end of the month. Atlanta superintendent Meria Carstarphen told the Journal-Constitution that Hames’ no-bid contract is appropriate because Hames is “uniquely positioned” to help the district.

The governor’s Opportunity School District legislation would give the state the power to seize control of low-performing schools, convert them into charter campuses or shut them down.

The legislation would create a new statewide school district to take control of Georgia’s most distressed schools. Similar efforts have already launched in Tennessee, Michigan, and in Louisiana post-Hurricane Katrina.

The Georgia plan, which must be approved by a majority of voters in November 2016, would empower the state to take over schools deemed to be persistent failures. The Georgia Federation of Teachers is among the groups that oppose the legislation. Pro-school choice group, StudentsFirst Georgia, plans to support the referendum.

There are currently 27 Atlanta schools that would be eligible for state takeover, the Journal-Constitution reports.

As would likely be the case in Georgia, many of the schools that fall under state control are in the state’s urban centers. In Michigan, it’s Detroit. In Tennessee, it’s Memphis. In Louisiana, it’s New Orleans.

Lawmakers in several other states, including Wisconsin, are pushing to adopt similar models.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.