A lawsuit filed by Smithson-Craighead Middle School and two parents on Monday aims to prevent the charter school from closing at the end of the year.
Keisha Johnson and Zina Taylor, on behalf of other SCMS students and parents, sued Metro Nashville Public Schools on Monday, claiming the closure of the charter school is unjust. The suit alleges that students will be “forced to endure an educational experience of lesser quality” when SCMS closes.
The Metro school board voted 8-1 last November to close SCMS after the school ranked in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state. But SCMS officials argued that they had actually made some test score improvements — and that their mission involved helping underprivileged students.
The lawsuit claims that SCMS received “nothing but disdain” from MNPS Director Jesse Register and MNPS Executive Director of the Office of Innovation Alan Coverstone, who are both named as defendants.
SCMS also claims that MNPS violated the 14th Amendment by failing to provide due process rights when revoking their charter. The school received no written record from MNPS about the intent to close, according to the suit.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, also includes preliminary injunctions to stop the closure of the school before May 24 and prevent MNPS from interfering with SCMS operations.
In response to the suit, MNPS communications specialist Joe Bass told The City Paper, "They are persistently low performing, one of the worst schools in Tennessee.
"We are always committed to high quality charters and part of that is being committed to closing charters that don't perform. That is consistent with state law and it's supported by the Tennessee Department of Education. We expect to prevail," Bass said.
Smithson Craighead Middle School is operated by Project Reflect Inc., a Christian nonprofit organization that also operates an elementary school.