Top charter school wants to operate in Fayette

California-based nonprofit Heritage Classical Charter Schools (HCCS) has submitted a letter of intent to locate the Liberty Tech Charter School in Fayette County beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. The Fayette County Board of Education on Monday decided to delay the vote on an amendment to the existing charter school policy for 30 days to give the public time to provide input on the amendment.

HCCS CEO and Headmaster Scott Phillips in the Dec. 16 letter of intent said his organization is working closely with an unidentified group of parents in Fayette County “who have approached us to help them develop Liberty Tech Charter School.”

“Our vision for Liberty Tech Charter School is a public charter school located in Fayette County modeled after the highly successful Temecula Preparatory School in the southern California area of Temecula Valley,” said Phillips. “Temecula Tech as been recognized as one of ‘America’s Best High Schools’ by U.S. News and World Report, has been named a ‘California Distinguished School’ and has posted some of the highest state test scores in the state for the past several years.”

Phillips said the school proposes to open for the 2015-2016 school year serving grades 3-8 and increasing to grades K-12 four years thereafter.

Citing the values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Phillips said the objective of HCCS is for Liberty Tech to have a heavy focus on virtue throughout the school community as a foundation for good education.

Superintendent Jody Barrow at the Monday meeting suggested the board move ahead with amending the existing policy and the few changes included in the amendment. Board member Bob Todd suggested that the policy sit for 30 days, a customary move for new policies, to give time for public input.

According to the current charter school policy, the school board can vote to accept or deny the petition to establish a charter school within 60 days of the submission of the letter of intent. The amended policy calls for such a decision no later than 90 days from the petition submission date. HCCS submitted the letter of intent on Dec. 16.

If the school board approves the charter petition, the petition will be forwarded to the Ga. Dept. of Education (DOE) within 30 days for review.

If the petition is denied, the board will have 60 days to provide a written explanation to CHHS and DOE stating the reasons for denial and providing a list of deficiencies in the petition.

The amendment will come back to the board at the February regular meeting.

Barrow after the meeting noted that, if denied by the board, HCCS can take the petition to the Ga. Charter Schools Commission. By law, the commission can override a local board.

Such an instance occurred a few years ago in Coweta County. The Coweta school board denied the Coweta Charter Academy but the school received approval by the Ga. Charter Schools Commission.