State Will Withhold $3.4 Million From MNPS After Defiance Over Great Hearts

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After the Metro school board rejected Great Hearts Academies' charter application four times, twice in defiance of a state order, the State Department of Education this morning announced that it will withhold approximately $3.4 million in administrative funds from the county next month.

The funds will come out of "the non-classroom components of the state's Basic Education Program funding formula," according to a department release (which appears below in full). The money will be reallocated to other districts in the state.

The release also includes comments from House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who both supported the decision as the just consequence for Metro's defiance of the state. Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman — whose feelings on the Great Hearts matter are now well known — said the state had "no choice but to take this action" in light of the Metro school board's refusal to comply with the state order.

The Tennessee Department of Education today informed Metro Nashville Public Schools that the state is withholding approximately $3.4 million of non-classroom, administrative funding from the school system, as a consequence of the district’s refusal to follow state law.

The money represents the non-classroom components of the state’s Basic Education Program funding formula. The state is withholding this portion of October’s funds based on the Metro Nashville Public School Board’s refusal to follow Tennessee’s charter school law in its meetings on Aug. 14 and Sept. 11. The state chose the non-classroom funds to mitigate the impact on students.

“We were all hopeful that Metro Nashville’s school board would obey the law and avoid this situation,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “It is our job to enforce state law, and we have no choice but to take this action.”

The department intends to reallocate the funds to other districts in Tennessee using the state funding formula.

Speaker of the House Beth Harwell noted that the Metro school board had multiple chances to comply with state law.

“The Metro Nashville school board had two chances to follow the law, and twice it chose to not do so. This is the consequence,” she said.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey agreed, saying he supported the decision to uphold the law.

“The Metro Nashville school board's brazen defiance of state law limited options for thousands of Nashville parents and their children," Ramsey said. "The rule of law is not optional in Tennessee. Those who break it must be held accountable."

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