UPDATED: 1 p.m. Monday
Cherokee Charter Academy's last hope for opening this August rests with the Cherokee County and State Boards of Education after the Supreme Court of Georgia denied a motion that asked the justices to reconsider a 4-3 decision toppling the 2008 Georgia Charter Schools Commission Act.
"As with the original decision," court spokeswoman Jane Hansen said this morning, "the vote was 4-3 to deny the motion."
An official with the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation, the body that governs Cherokee Charter Academy, said she was "disappointed, not surprised.
"It has been repeatedly called a Hail Mary pass, which it was," said Lyn Michaels-Carden, who sits on the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation board. "We really did not think that they were going to reconsider. It's almost never been done."
Last month, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and a group of three state-commissioned charter schools filed separate motions asking the state Supreme Court to reverse a May 16 decision that left 16 state-commissioned charter schools in the lurch.
Cherokee Charter Academy was one of them.
"I am extremely disappointed with the Supreme Court's ruling," Olens said. "However, the ruling is final, and the rule of law requires that such rulings be followed whether or not one agrees with them. Accordingly, we will continue to assist our clients as they explore all available options consistent with the ruling to preserve educational choice for all affected students."
Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, echoed Olens' sentiment.
"The justices have made a mistake that will negatively impact the lives of thousands of Georgia children," he told Canton-Sixes Patch. "They had an opportunity to correct that mistake and did not do so. It is a sad day for Georgia education."
Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, said on his Twitter account that "the legislature will have to attempt to offer a 21st century solution." Millar, who chairs the Special Subcommittee for Education and Youth, did not elaborate.
The Cherokee County School District was to discuss the Cherokee Charter Academy during a specially called meeting at 7:30 p.m. June 30. That gathering may not be necessary. According to the agenda for the June 16 Cherokee County Board of Education meeting, school board member Kim Cochran will bring up the item.
In a letter to parents over the weekend, the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation announced that it was pursuing a new route: approval as a "state special charter school." Charter schools approved by the state board are eligible for state funding, not local school tax dollars.
"The State Department of Education is conducting an interview with us on June 15 and the State Board of Education has called a special meeting for June 28 to vote on the State Special Charter applications," foundation board members wrote. "Note the meeting on June 28 is also intended for the State Board of Education to vote on any locally approved charter applications, which is an important reason why we need the Cherokee School Board to take action on our application prior to June 28. Although we are pursuing State Special Charter School status as an option, we strongly prefer to be approved by the local School Board as it will provide more certainty to our funding and ability to operate the school."
Click the PDFs on this page for today's ruling and the foundation's letter, then stay tuned to canton-ga.patch.com for updates on this breaking news story.