On Monday, Druid Hills High School cluster of voters decided to submit a charter petition to DeKalb County schools: Druid Hills charter cluster wins in a big way. What’s next?
On Friday, [Today] the petition, the first of its kind under an untested state law, goes to the DeKalb school board for an up or down vote in coming weeks or months. If the school board approves the cluster, it will go to the state for final approval.
The petitioners seek to establish their own governance board that would hire an administrator and oversee operations at Druid Hills High and its six feeder schools. State officials say if the charter is approved, it could be a model that gets repeated elsewhere.
Parents and teachers thronged the gym of Druid Hills High School Tuesday to cast ballots in an unprecedented vote that could reverberate across the state.
“Anything that gets us a little autonomy from DeKalb County is a good thing,” said Debra Turner, who got one vote because her daughter is a sophomore at Druid Hills High.
The organizers are the first to harness an untested state law that allows groups of schools to break away from school district bureaucracies.
The county school board and the state must approve the charter for it to become official, but the enthusiasm outside the school gym during this first big step was obvious. Teachers said they felt overworked and demoralized, and parents said they felt their neighborhood schools were not performing as well as they could.
More >>> From MyAJC and Get Schooled blog:
The organizers of the DruidHillsCharterCluster will officially present their petition to the DeKalb County School District Friday, initiating a lengthy review process.
Before introducing the Carey op-ed, here is an excerpt from an MyAJC.com story about Tuesday’s election and the turnout. Of the 1,130 votes cast, 92 percent favored the charter cluster. The story was written by AJC DeKalb schools reporter Ty Tagami:
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution calculated Tuesday’s turnout at 20 percent — less than the percentage calculated by the petitioners. The 3 percentage point difference likely resulted from different enrollment figures provided by the school district at different points in time. Enrollment typically grows each day at the beginning of the school year as parents register their children, and the student count provided to the AJC Wednesday contained about 500 more students than the number used by the petitioners to calculate turnout.
It may be an imperfect comparison, but the turnout in the local school board race last year at precincts mostly within the cluster was higher than both numbers, about 26 percent.
Matthew Lewis, the lead organizer and potential governing board member, said that wasn’t a very big difference, though, especially since these were volunteer parents with little funding while an official election campaign is driven by candidates with backing from donors.
“A large and interested group of parents and teachers voted — by any measure and in excess of every prediction made to us by those who follow these things,” he said.
Lewis said cluster supporters have a vested interest in ensuring high quality at all the schools within it. If any one school fails to reach its performance goals, he said, the entire cluster could lose its charter.
Some say the vote was not legal. Read about it here >> Political scientist: Druid Hills charter cluster vote was neither fair nor legal