A Kentucky circuit court judge heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging a new state law allowing charter schools to open.
The measure, House Bill 9, was vetoed by Gov. Andy Beshear in 2022 before the House and Senate overrode it, 52-46 and 22-15, respectively. It requires the opening of two charter schools, one in Louisville and another in northern Kentucky, for a five-year pilot period to study the academic impact of charter schools.
The lawsuit, filed in January by the Council for Better Education, which represents nearly all of Kentucky’s public school districts, claims the law “unlawfully diverts local tax revenue levied by local boards of education to unaccountable charter schools” in violation of Kentucky’s constitution, reports the AP.
Section 184 of the Kentucky Constitution prohibits the use of funds collected or raised for public education to be used outside of “common schools.”
However, both sides agree that the outcome of the case depends on whether charter schools legally qualify as “common schools” according to the state constitution.
Aaron Silletto, an attorney with Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office, argued charter schools are “part and parcel of the common school system,” reports Louisville Public Media.
“This is but the next step, or the next, perhaps even experiment, in that long line of experimentation by the General Assembly in terms of how to structure the system,” Silletto argued.
Public charter schools were first authorized in Kentucky in 2017 under House Bill 520. Since then, none have been created. Lawmakers reasoned it was due to a lack of permanent funding, which the new law seeks to address.
Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd said he would issue a decision “as soon as possible,” but any decision he makes will likely be appealed, according to the AP.