Proposed Ga. law could give parents ability to fire teachers, administrators

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The charter school amendment that stirred up a lot of controversy in our area may have just been the tip of the iceberg.
Now that it has passed, a state senator out of Atlanta is planning to push for a follow-up law known as a parent trigger law.

The law would give parents the power to fire teachers or administrators. Supporters of the law say parents should have a more active role in how their child's school is managed, but the president of the PTA in Richmond County says this law gives parents too much power.

Parent trigger laws have been put in place in seven states since 2010 and Georgia could be next.

Monique Braswell, president of the Richmond County PTA, said, "I think this is entirely too much power."

The law gives parents the right to intervene in a school if it's performing poorly. Parents can put together a petition, and with enough signatures, either convert the school to a charter school, replace administration and faculty or close the school altogether.

Sen. Ed Lindsey from Fulton County is planning to make a big push for the law in Georgia during the upcoming legislative session.

"It basically enables parents to be more involved in their children's education," he said.

But Braswell says this is not as good as it sounds.

"We have too many angry parents at our system right now that would just be trying to get rid of administrators and teachers based on their personal emotions," he said.

But Sen. Lindsey says parents won't have the final say.

"The ultimate decision of whether to accept the petition of the parents or not would be with the local school board," he said.

Braswell pointed out, "We're firing administrators and we're firing teachers, who's going to pay them to leave? They're not just being fired and walking out the door without anything."

Braswell says this law could be costly, citing a school in Florida that fired an administrator under the parent trigger law but had to pay him $500,000 in severance pay.

"This is going to bankrupt our public school system," she said.

Lindsey says this wouldn't bankrupt the system because ultimately, if the local school board doesn't have the funds, they don't have to agree to the petition.

This legislation will be coming up in the Georgia state senate in January -- and we'll continue to follow this for you.

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