In North Carolina, Charter Day School back in 2016 was sued by parents who objected to a dress code requiring girls to wear skirts, jumpers, or skorts. They just won that suit, sort of, but revealed somethiung about themselves in the winning.
This is a school whose mission involves communicating through the arts and sciences. Charter Day School is part of the network of charters operated by Roger Bacon Academy, one of the charters that focuses on a "classical curriculum" in a "safe, morally strong environment," which meant, apparently, none of those pants-wearing girls in their school (It also supposedly means things like sentence diagramming in Kindergarten and Latin in 4th grade, but then, Baker is an electrical engineer, not an educator.)
|You're in trouble now, missy.|
RBA is owned and operated by Baker Mitchell, Jr., and if that name seems vaguely familiar, it's because he is one of the titans of charter profiteering. Back in 2014, Marian Wang profiled the "politically-connected businessman who celebrates the power of the free market," and how he perfected the business of starting nonprofit charter schools and then having those schools lease their buildings, equipment, programs, etc from for-profit companies owned and operated by Baker Mitchell, Jr. That's where the Roger Bacon Academy, a for-profit charter management company comes in.
In 2019, a federal judge passed down the ruling that any public school in the country would have expected-- a dress code requiring skirts for girls is unconstitutional. The school quietly retired the item in the dress code.
But that wasn't the end of it. Monday (Aug 9) a federal appeals court tossed out the 2019 ruling--sort of-- in a 2-1 ruling.
The two judges, both Trump appointees, ruled that contrary to the assertion of the lower court, that charter schools should not be considered state actors, and are therefore not subject to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. This is yet another way for the courts to work their way around to declaring that charter schools are free to discriminate in any ways they wish. But it also makes one thing perfectly clear--
Charter schools are not public schools. They are not state actors.
The opinion told the lower court to go check and see if the rule violates Title IX (spoiler alert: it does). The dissenting opinion said they should have just plain upheld the lower court ruling.
Meanwhile, Baker (now 81), still thinks it's a good rule:“We're a school of choice. We're classical in our curriculum and very traditional. I believe that the more of the traditional things you have in place, the more they tend to reinforce each other,” he said in a phone interview. “We want boys to be boys and girls to be girls and have mutual respect for each other. We want boys to carry the umbrella for girls and open doors for them ... and we want to start teaching that in grammar school.”
Of course, charters are not public schools. They are contractors. States and school.districts need to apply normal contract oversight. Not fulfilling your contract? We will terminate your contract. Any building we build with state/district funds remains a government building. We will periodically re-compete the contract. The incumbent may not win the recompete. We will periodically look at bringing the function in-house.ReplyDelete
This is what Rep Castor’s amendment wants to prevent: the skirting of the rules banning for-profit charters. Quote from the article: he perfected the business of starting nonprofit charter schools and then having those schools lease their buildings, equipment, programs, etc from for-profit companies owned and operated by Baker Mitchell, Jr. That's where the Roger Bacon Academy, a for-profit charter management company comes in.ReplyDelete
They are no different than the paving company that resurfaces your street every five years. They are a private company providing a public service. They are not a public utility or section of the local DOT.ReplyDelete
While I find the dissent by Obama-appointed Judge Keenan rather more compelling than the majority decision by Trump appointees Quattlebaum and Rushing, Peter Greene's belief that the latter establishes that "Charter schools are not public schools. They are not state actors." is contradicted by the text of the decision on which he relies.ReplyDelete
Quattlebaum and Rushing, in fact, wrote: "Thus, our decision today does not address whether a charter school can ever be a state actor. We only decide today that CDS’s skirt requirement is not 'fairly attributable' to the state for § 1983 purposes. Rendell-Baker, 457 U.S. at 838."