Valdosta Daily Times

State News

October 3, 2012

State education agency neutral on charter vote

ATLANTA — With the state education chief under pressure for opposing an amendment on charter schools, the Georgia Department of Education has declared its neutrality on the Nov. 6 vote.

The amendment would allow a new state board to select private organizations to run taxpayer-financed charter schools. The power now rests with local school boards.

All day Tuesday, the department of education scrolled an alert across its webpage stating that it “takes no position” on the vote. The message doesn’t mention Superintendent John Barge. But it is meant to mollify complaints that the Republican schools chief abused his authority and violated state laws governing electioneering by public agencies and elected officials.

The online alert is the second retreat in as many weeks following a complaint lodged by an Atlanta attorney on behalf of unidentified clients. Earlier, Barge retracted online documents explaining his opposition to the amendment.

Barge aides said both actions followed the advice of state Attorney General Sam Olens.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s office, meanwhile, quietly edited a March 19 statement on the governor’s official website, removing a statement in which he urged Georgians to approve the change. Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the action was voluntary.

The statement, issued when the General Assembly approved the amendment, previously concluded with this line: “I hope Georgians will cast their vote for protecting and promoting schools that have a strong record of student achievement.” It now concludes with a new sentence: “There’s a great need in our state for protecting and promoting schools that have a strong record of student achievement.”

As of Tuesday evening, the statement was still dated March 19, with no reference to the editing more than six months after its initial release.

Deal headlines the supporters for the amendment, arguing that Georgians need as many public education options as possible.

Barge is the highest profile opponent, saying the new board would constitute a state power grab. Local school boards already may grant charter applications.

Robinson said he knows of no complaints filed against the governor. “It’s just not worth going to the mat over,” he told AP in an email. “We think it’s fine but why hassle.”

The retooling of official websites aside, Robinson and Barge aide Matt Cardoza said their bosses intend to continue publicly stating their positions.

It is not clear whether that will generate legal repercussions. Glenn Delk, the attorney who initially complained about Barge’s activities, said his clients believe relevant laws and Georgia Supreme Court decisions bar the superintendent from speaking about his opposition in his official capacity. Asked whether the same standard applies to the governor, Delk said, “My clients are concerned with Superintendent Barge.”

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
State News
  • Ga. online tuition dropping

    Jenni Small has good reason for avoiding 8 a.m. world literature classes at Dalton State College in northern Georgia. The 23-year-old works night shifts as an operator for carpet manufacturer Shaw while finishing her bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
    Instead of heading straight to class from work, she uses eCore — an online system that focuses on “core” classes that every Georgia state college or university student must take — for 1 or 2 courses each semester.

    April 21, 2014

  • Vidalia Onion Battle_Rich copy.jpg Vidalia onion farmer back in court over ship date

    One of Georgia’s most prominent Vidalia onion farmers is going back to court in an effort to stop the state agriculture commissioner from fining growers who ship the famous sweet onions before a certain date.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • GEORGIA PORTS_Rich copy.jpg Ga. ports on track to smash cargo records

    Georgia’s seaports are on track to finish the 2014 fiscal year with record cargo volumes as third-quarter numbers show big growth capped by the ports’ busiest month ever in terms of total tonnage being shipped to and from the docks.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gov. Deal signs prisoner re-entry bill into law

    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill into law on Sunday that is aimed at reducing recidivism among ex-offenders and helping them successfully re-enter society.

    April 14, 2014

  • Deal reports $3.9M in cash for re-election bid

    Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday reported $3.9 million in cash for his re-election bid, after raising about $84,000 in 11 days since the legislative session ended.

    April 8, 2014

  • photoscape_eagle.jpg Ga. eagle population continues growth

    During a late-March aerial survey by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, more than 25 bald eagle nests were counted in northeastern Georgia. All but three represented viable adults and chicks.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Private company selling Georgia accident reports

    Selling car crash reports to a private company has saved time and money according to state officials, but some drivers cite concerns over retrieval costs and privacy.

    April 7, 2014

  • Forecasters issue flood watch in Ga.

    The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch covering much of the state.

    April 6, 2014

  • Georgia wants private companies to manage student housing

    Georgia is on course to become one of the nation’s largest experiments in privatized college dorms, but it’s unclear whether the changes will lower students’ bills at a time when university costs are soaring.

    April 6, 2014

  • Ga. misses food stamp backlog deadline

    State officials say Georgia missed the deadline to clear backlogged food stamp cases, putting millions of dollars of federal funding at risk.

    April 5, 2014

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results