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Mississippi Charter Authorizer Board...

Mississippi Charter Authorizer Board denies all but one application to open new charter school

By: Anne Summerhays - September 27, 2022

Instant Impact Global Prep will operate in Natchez, Mississippi beginning 2023-2024 school year. 

On Monday, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board denied all but one application to open new charter schools in Mississippi.  In all, four applications were denied.

The one approval given was to Instant Impact Global Prep. Their CEO says it is a win for students in Natchez who will soon have another public education option.

“We are very pleased to know that we’ve moved on in this process,” JoAnn Rucker, CEO of Instant Impact Educational Services said according to the Natchez Democrat. “Since the feedback we received last year, we’ve worked hard to show that we are ready and capable of providing this innovative program we plan to offer.”

The Mississippi Charter Schools Act of 2013 defines charter schools as public schools that have flexibility over decisions including finance, personnel, scheduling, curriculum, and instruction because they are governed by an independent, non-profit governing board instead of the local school district board. 

Public charter schools do not charge tuition and are open to all students within the allowed geographic boundary, regardless of academic, athletic, or special education status.

Since 2013, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board has approved nine public charter schools. Currently, eight provide public education to over 2,000 students in Jackson, Clarksdale, and Leflore County, Mississippi.

According to Mississippi First, strong majorities of all parents in Mississippi charter school communities support charter schools in their locales.  They report that 96.3% of charter parents support charter schools in their communities while 72.7% of non-charter parents support them.

Following MCSAB’s board meeting on Monday, Empower Mississippi CEO Grant Callen and Douglas Carswell, President and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, released statements regarding the Board’s decision.

The EmpowerMS CEO said that while the approval of Instant Impact Global Prep by the Charter School Authorizer Board is a win for students in Natchez, other equally deserving students were failed by the Board’s actions.

“Unfortunately, students in other districts across the state, students who are equally deserving of education options, are being failed by an overly restrictive Board approach that continues to deny the creation of new charter schools that desire to serve some of the most vulnerable children in Mississippi,” Callen said.

“Today, the Board had before them multiple applicants, who in our view, more than surpassed the threshold to be approved to start a high-quality charter school,” Callen continued. “We are heartened that three of the seven Board members agreed with this perspective and remain hopeful that in the future a majority of the Board will come to understand that creating more options for more students is an urgent imperative and their primary charge. The children of Mississippi are depending on it.”

The President and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy said that the Charter School Authorizer Board seems almost determined to reject new applications.

“Any application that is not deemed perfect gets a thumbs down,” Carswell stated. “The fact that not every application is deemed perfect is not an acceptable excuse. The job of the Authorizer Board should be to work with applicants to ensure they are acceptable.”

“Rejecting any application that is not 100 percent perfect is absurd. It means that children that might be able to go to a Charter School are forced to remain in their very far from perfect school board run school,” Carswell continued. “If the Authorizer Board is not up to approving new Charter Schools, responsibility to overseeing the process needs to be shared with other organizations and agencies that are.”



About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: