The Tennessee Public Charter School Commission has approved a resolution to overturn the Metro Nashville Public School board's denial of Nashville Classical Charter's application to open a second school in West Nashville. Now, according to the state commission’s general counsel Ashley Thomas, MNPS has 30 days to decide if it will serve as the local education agency for the second Nashville Classical Charter School. If not, then the TPCSC will serve as the school's local education agency.
The commission was created in 2019 and championed by Gov. Bill Lee, who — Chalkbeat Tennessee reports — “argued the state needed a single board focused solely on ensuring that high-quality charter schools can open and ineffective ones are closed.” At the beginning of 2021, the commission assumed the Tennessee State Board of Education’s responsibility to respond to charter school appeals, and in July it also assumed the state board’s authorization responsibilities. Today marks the commission’s first decision with both Nashville Classical II and another charter school in West Tennessee.
The original Nashville Classical School is located in East Nashville, and the second iteration of the K-8 school will fill the building that used to host Brookmeade Elementary School at 1015 Davidson Drive. According to Nashville Classical’s website, the second location will open in August 2022, “with 81 scholars in Kindergarten and will add 81 fifth graders in its second year (2023-2024). By the 2026-2027 school year, NC II will enroll 700 scholars in grades K-8, making it the city’s first K-8 public school outside of East Nashville.”
The decision has been met with criticism from school board member Abigail Tylor, who represents District 9, where the second Nashville Classical is to be located.
“The State Charter Commission's vote to overturn the will of MNPS's locally elected school board is a terribly disappointing outcome,” Tylor tells the Scene in an email. “It's disingenuous for them to claim opening this school is in the best interest of MNPS and District 9 when they not only heard directly from community members and local elected officials asking them to deny the school, but the locally elected School Board voted against it twice. How can the charter commission know what the 'best interest' of MNPS and District 9 is when none of its members live here, let alone send their children to our schools? This is state overreach, pure and simple."
“None of our schools have ever been on the school priority list," Tylor continues. "In fact, since the 2017-18 school year, every single one of our District 9 elementary schools have been designated reward schools at least once, if not multiple times. All the TVAAS scores for the elementary schools in District 9 meet or exceed Nashville Classical's scores, with the majority exceeding them. If they want to help families who are unhappy with the performance of their zoned elementary school, District 9 should not be location they choose."
Metro Councilmember Dave Rosenberg in nearby District 35 also took to Twitter to share his disappointment: "A mediocre taxpayer-funded private school will open in a community that strongly supports its public schools after state bureaucrats overturned the will of locally elected public officials and the community. This will pull resources from public school classrooms to line pockets."
Representatives from Nashville Classical Charter School could not be reached for immediate comment on Tuesday.