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Charter School Amendment Forum at Lassiter

Cobb school superintendent Michael Hinojosa and State Rep. Ed Setzler will appear at a PTSA-sponsored event next Monday.

Lassiter High School will be the venue next week for a public forum on HR 1162, a proposed charter school amendment to the Georgia Constitution that appears on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The Lassiter PTSA and the Mountain View Elementary School PTA are sponsoring the forum, which begins next Monday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lassiter Theater. Lassiter is located at 2601 Shallowford Road in Northeast Cobb. 

State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-North Cobb), the head of the Cobb legislative delegation, will speak in favor of the amendment. It would allow the Georgia Department of Education to create a committee to approve charter school applications without the authorization of local school boards.

Michael Hinojosa, the Cobb County School District Superintendent, will speak against the amendment.

HR 1162 has galvanized plenty of controversy and a ruling from Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, an East Cobb resident, about how and under what circumstances public officials can express their views on the ballot measure.

Olens ruled on Oct. 3 that local school boards cannot expend funds or use other official resources to support or oppose the amendment.

Pro-amendment forces had argued that leading opponents, including Georgia School Superintendent John Barge, enjoyed an unfair advantage at taxpayer expense.

The state Department of Education was forced to remove from its website statements opposing HR 1162.

Mountain View PTA legislative co-chair JoEllen Smith, who is moderating the Lassiter forum, told Patch that the event follows Olens' neutrality mandate, since both sides of the issue will be presented and it is not an official school function.

A Cobb school system spokesman said Hinojosa would be attending the forum in an unofficial capacity.

Most PTA organizations in the state, from the Georgia PTA down to the school level, oppose the amendment, saying that charter school approval should be a local decision.

The Lassiter and Mountain View PTAs also follow that position, and both link to related statements and resources on their websites.

HR 1162, which overrides a decision by the Georgia Supreme Court, was approved by the House in February by a 123-48 vote. In addition to Setzler, all Cobb Republicans voted in favor, including East and Northeast Cobb representatives John Carson, Don Parsons, Matt Dollar and Sharon Cooper.

State Sen. Judson Hill of East Cobb, a Republican, voted with the Senate majority in approving the measure by a 40-16 vote.

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