by Steven Hale
In The City Paper this week, Joey Garrison delivers a must-read after some open-records digging revealed state officials keeping tabs on the Great Hearts charter application process, and working to find a way around Metro's rejection of the charter provider's plans.
In fact, Garrison found that state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman wasn't just involved in reacting to the Metro school board's defiance of a state board's order to approve the charter application, but was trying to figure out how to get Great Hearts approved from the beginning.
In the Great Hearts case, Huffman wasn’t merely an observer. He contemplated how the charter group should best proceed with its appeal. He wondered why the local chamber of commerce wasn’t involved. He coordinated with Great Hearts officials. He watched in dismay over the course of the summer as the Metro school board on multiple occasions balked at approving Great Hearts. And after the board denied Great Hearts and KIPP Nashville (a separate charter that it later approved) on May 29, Huffman relayed disappointment to Gov. Bill Haslam the next morning.
“Not sure how each school will handle the appeals process, but I find it somewhat remarkable that Metro rejected two of the very best charters in the country in one meeting,” Huffman wrote to Haslam and the governor’s top aides, Mark Cate and Will Cromer. “Bad for kids and for the community.”