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Judge suspends parts of new Montana charter school law |  Montana


(The Center Square) — A Montana judge has approved a preliminary injunction that partially ends parts of Montana’s new charter school law.

Also known as House Bill 562the Community Choice Schools Act allows localities to establish charter schools and be overseen by a state charter commission that is part of the Montana Board of Public Education.

District Judge Chris Abbott’s decision applies to sections 5 through 16 of the CCSA and states that the Community Choice Schools Commission, as provided by law, cannot at this time “approve or deny applications for authorization or schools of choice”. However, the commission can meet, approve regulations and hire staff.

“The Court does not consider that the plaintiffs have demonstrated that charter schools or schools of choice are themselves likely to be unconstitutional per se, nor does the Court express an opinion on the political debate over charter schools or educational choice generally: except in limited circumstances where they intersect with the requirements of the Constitution, these are matters for the elected representatives of the people in the Legislative Assembly,” Abbott wrote. .

“But the Court finds that plaintiffs are likely to demonstrate in this litigation that in creating schools of choice, the state cannot confiscate oversight power from the bodies constitutionally charged with overseeing the public school system – the Board of Education. public education and locally elected school boards. …and entrust it to a body created by the legislature itself,” the judge added.

Kendall Cotton, president and CEO of the Frontier Institute, a Helena-based think tank, said in a statement that the order “denies students in Montana the opportunity to receive a quality public education that meets their needs. unique learning experiences”.

“While this ordinance is a temporary setback for families in Montana who deserve their children to have access to the same quality public education options available to families in 45 other states, we remain confident that the Community Choice Schools Act will ultimately confirmed by the court.” Cotton added.

Trish Schreiber, senior education researcher at the Frontier Institute, said “it’s a relief” the judge sees no problem allowing the Community Choice School Commission to “start laying the groundwork” while this case progresses.

Schreiber was recently appointed President of the Community Choice School Board.

Governor Greg Gianforte signed Bill 562 into law in May. At the time, the governor said “The government should never come between parents and their children’s education. The governor added that Montana is empowering parents to “choose what’s best for their family and their children.”