In response to the Metro School Board’s rejection of Great Hearts Academies' charter application, the state Department of Education announced that it is withholding more than $3 million in administrative funds from the county in October.
The money, part of the non-classroom portion of the Basic Education Program funding formula, will be reallocated to other districts in Tennessee.
“We were all hopeful that Metro Nashville’s school board would obey the law and avoid this situation. It is our job to enforce state law, and we have no choice but to take this action,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.
House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey both supported the state’s decision.
“The Metro Nashville school board had two chances to follow the law, and twice it chose to not do so. This is the consequence,” Harwell said in a statement.
The move by the state is the latest chapter in the long-running battle between the school board and state officials over the Arizona-based charter operator. After Great Hearts’ application to open a West Nashville charter school near White Bridge Road was rejected, they appealed to the state, which ordered Metro to approve it. Two successive school board meetings produced a deferral and then an outright rejection. Great Hearts then announced it would pull out of Nashville until the climate changed.
The state's action comes as little surprise. A City Paper story showed how state officials have been working for months towards approving Great Hearts even in the face of local interference.