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State Dept. of Education announces it's neutral on charter amendment

Georgia State School Superintendent John Barge

Georgia State School Superintendent John Barge

The Georgia Department of Education is scrolling an alert on its home page telling the public that it takes no position on the charter schools amendment.

The alert, scrolled across the top of the department’s home page, tells viewers: “The Georgia Department of Education takes no position on the Charter School Constitutional Amendment.”

Last week, an Atlanta attorney complained to the state Board of Education that Georgia Schools Superintendent John Barge was illegally using department resources to urge the public not to support the charter schools amendment, which would underscore the state’s ability to authorize charter schools and establish a commission to consider applications for them.

Arguing that the amendment could threaten funding for traditional public schools, Barge had announced his opposition to the proposed amendment. A detailed explanation of his position had been posted on the department’s site. Some local school districts used some of the points Barge made in explaining the amendment to voters.

The Atlanta attorney, Glenn Delk, complained that Barge and local school superintendents were violating Georgia law by using taxpayer resources to campaign for a political position.

Barge consulted with the attorney general’s office and had the link to his explanation removed from the department’s home page. The superindendent has said he plans to continue opposing the proposed amendment.