The chair of the Metro school board has requested a meeting with Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman over the state’s decision to withhold from Metro $3.4 million in “non-classroom” funding following its rejection of Great Hearts Academies’ charter proposal.
“While I understand your position, I respectfully disagree and request a meeting with you to revisit this matter and avert this action,” Cheryl Mayes, appointed chair of the school board last week, wrote in a Wednesday letter to Huffman.
According to a state department of education official, Huffman has agreed to the meeting.
Gov. Bill Haslam, along with Huffman, said the decision to withhold funds Tuesday came down to enforcing the state’s laws. The State Board of Education ordered the approval of Great Hearts’ charter application, but the local board defied the order on two occasions — most recently, last week.
School board members have repeatedly objected to the diversity plan outlined by the Phoenix-based charter group.
In her letter, Mayes reminded Huffman that Metro only emerged from court-ordered desegregation in 1998. Three-fourths of the school district qualifies for free and reduced lunches, she pointed out, and 29 percent of the state’s English Language Learners hail from Nashville.
“For us, ‘diversity’ is not a political term,” Mayes wrote. “Diversity is a real concern in our community, and we take seriously our obligation to promote it. While you assert the local school board broke the law, we were acting as responsible, duly-elected and duly-sworn public officials upholding the U.S. Constitution and its Equal Protection Clause.”
|Mayes letter to Huffman.pdf||474.98 KB|