Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal to overhaul how charter schools are approved in Tennessee now includes the creation of a new, nine-person commission that would let applicants skip local school districts entirely.
That's causing concern among Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
The plan, which was presented Tuesday during a meeting of the House Curriculum, Testing and Innovation subcomittee hearing, would deviate from the process established by state lawmakers just two years ago. That gave charter schools that have been denied by a local school district the right to appeal to the State Board of Education.
Instead, charter schools would instead be given the option of applying directly to a new commission, chosen by the governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. It would be able to decide whether a charter school is approved or denied — without the local school district ever getting a say.
That’s something that worries Rep. Charlie Baum, a Republican from Murfreesboro.
"I’m wondering if there’s been some examination for how much the commission will know about local issues and the local [school district],” Baum said .
Charter schools could still be able to apply to a school district. But the proposal eliminates the appeals process if the application is denied.