Judge dismisses Smithson Craighead's claims against school board; charter set to close

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 1:31pm

Attorneys for Smithson Craighead Middle School were scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday to present their argument for why the school shouldn’t close at the end of this week.

SCMS won’t get that day in court. Instead a judge’s order issued Wednesday morning moves the school closer to shutting down Friday.

The charter school sued the Metro Nashville Board of Education in April, after the school board decided to revoke its charter. A court hearing was cancelled Wednesday morning after U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp issued a 19-page memorandum dismissing all of SCMS’s claims.

SCMS had attempted to argue that the school board violated its right to due process and equal protection when the board voted in November to close SCMS. The state identified SCMS as being a low-performing school, with test scores in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state.

But Sharp dismissed the complaint, ruling that the parents — two of which are plaintiffs in the case — don’t have a substantive right to enroll their children in a charter school. Sharp also ruled that there are other viable educational options, including zoned MNPS schools.

“The Complaint’s vague allegations about safety, overcrowding, learning, and nurture at unspecified MNPS zoned schools cannot establish a claim of significant educational inferiority,” the memorandum reads.

Metro attorney Keli Oliver said, “We believed the judge reached the right decision and issued a well-reasoned opinion. We’re looking forward to moving on and supporting charter schools going forward, especially ones that can meet the needs of our students.”

Attorneys for SCMS couldn’t be immediately reached on Wednesday morning. 

10 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 5/22/13 at 11:39

This is a great victory for productive Nashvillians.

By: Balo on 5/22/13 at 7:27

This situation should have never reached this point. The members of the Board of Education failed those kids at SC Middle school. The members are not educators and do not have the needed instincts to evaluate the situation and to reach the correct result that benefits the students.

It was very simple. Never...never close that school. No one should ever send the message to any kids that they are failures. With a sense of urgency, a new staff should have been selected and sent to that school. The honorable attorney admitted that the present staff failed the kids. His clients also failed and they should have done everything in their power to save that school and its students. This would have been a well-reasoned result.

A very sad situation.

By: pswindle on 5/22/13 at 8:31

This seems to be the fate of the Charter Schools. They last a few years and they are gone because of short comings and the children suffer.

By: yogiman on 5/23/13 at 4:44

I agree, Balo, it takes teachers to teach. Students can only learn.

Could this be only one more step in bringing communism into our children

By: edsupp on 5/23/13 at 6:18

This one is simple. Many of these kids were brought in to play sports. Period. The football team had a hard time even getting other teams to play them because everyone knew that the players were recruited. I do not think they were even scored on all year long. Same can be said for the basketball team, track team, etc. They did not play by the rules and the academic performance was a direct result. SC was even trying to establish a high school level charter school. What a concept. Recruit athletes just as private schools do but do not charge them tuition. I feel bad for the kids but not for the school itself. This was well deserved. The board did not fail the kids. This was something that needed to be done. When you are performing in the bottom five percent academically something is wrong and resources will not change that fast enough to make great improvement.

By: Loner on 5/23/13 at 6:33

So, Charter Schools are not the panacea that their advocates claim them to be...yeah, they're anti-union scab schools, but that fact alone does not translate into improved performance, SCM is an excellent example that illustrates this point.

Any school that ranks in the bottom 5% of TN schools must be altogether dreadful....pull the plug!

By: Loner on 5/23/13 at 6:39

Edsupp, thanks for the background info...the article skipped over that part...so, the school was basically a jock mill....that in itself might not be a bad thing, if the NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL were pick up the tab for that sort of "education"....but the taxpayers should not be saddled with paying for training young jocks to play stick & ball games.

By: jsabrown on 5/23/13 at 10:16

Public school is struggling? "Bah, gub'mint bad. Close it!"
Charter school is struggling? "Bah, gub'mint bad. Keep it open!"

By: Balo on 5/23/13 at 7:40

The logic of edsupp represents that of highly intelligent and elitist thinkers because no common man would draw those conclusions.

So the students were brought in to play sports. So. That is part of America and it is nothing new. Thirty years ago the Kansas City Royals started their academy to develop baseball players. In Florida and other places, tennis academies provide education and tennis classes to develop the young players. In Hilton Head, there are golf academies who offer education and classes to develop the young students golf skills. Kids from all over the world attend. This way of life is part of our fiber.

Maybe resources or the lack of may have been the problem. What was the composition of the staff? Was it a bunch of 2 year contact Teach America candidates who have zero interest in being a career educator? What about the administration? Were there any changes?

This school, Charter or not, should not have been closed. I strongly believe that the proper resources and the proper staffing would turn that school around. I have been there and I know it can be done.

Pull the plug.. quitting on kids... not an option.

By: edsupp on 5/24/13 at 5:21

Balo I can assure you that I am intelligent. The academies that you stated do not sound like publicly funded academies to me. I would also bet that those academies clearly stated that the main purpose was for perfecting athletic skills while getting an education. Charter schools and other publicly funded educational schools have the sole purpose of educating. Extracurricular activities at these schools are just that. This school was never once known as an educational institution. However, this school was known throughout Nashville to recruit athletic kids and help them refine their athletic abilities. This school did at one time truly have an academic minded principal. She did not care much for athletics but instead cared about improving test scores and academic performance. What did they do to her? She was transferred because she held the student accountable for their behavior and academic performance.