Tennessee Public Charter School Commission Rejects Founders Classical Applications in Williamson and Sumner Counties

Despite massive turnout in support of two Founders Classical Academy charter schools, the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission (TPCSC) has rejected the schools’ bids to open campuses in Williamson and Sumner counties.

“I think it is clear that this school has a lot of community support,” Tess Stovall, TPCSC’s executive director reportedly said. “However, that is not the only thing that one needs for a school to be successful.”

TCPSC voted unanimously against the charter schools.

The nine-member panel, comprised of appointees of Governor Bill Lee, a supposed school choice advocate, has rejected several charter school applications statewide this year.

As reported Tuesday by The Tennessee Star: 

The executive director of Tennessee’s Public Charter Schools Commission has recommended against two new charter schools, after last month battling to stop a charter school from opening in Rutherford County and another from opening in Williamson County.

Tess Stovall reportedly agreed with the Memphis-Shelby County School Boards’ unanimous votes – one in April and another in July – and recommended against the opening of Binghampton Community School and Tennessee Volunteer Military Academy.

Stovall’s résumé includes working for a left-wing nonprofit and a Democrat congressman from Tennessee earlier in her career.

For Founders Classical in Williamson County, which has been battling with the state to open a campus in Brentwood, the vote was another blow in a long saga.

Earlier this month, TPCSC held an appeals hearing after its initial rejection of the school. Tuesday’s decision appears to be the result of that hearing, in which the school was accused of having an “inability to effectively serve students” due to its purported lack of bus transportation.

But Brian Haas of Del Rey Education, a company that helps launch Founders Classical Academy public charter schools around the country, told The Star at the time that that was a misrepresentation of facts.

“Much of the Williamson County Schools presentation, especially the closing, dwelled on our purported ‘inability to effectively serve students,’ based on our lack of general bus transportation (Founders provides busing for special needs and in situations where necessary, and serves more diverse populations than most districts the schools reside in, with parents being willing to drive their children, as they are in Williamson), and lack of food services,” he said at the time.

He also said that politics plays a role in whether charter schools can open, despite the fact that many lawmakers in Tennessee say they support the alternatives to traditional public schools.

“There is pushback from both political sides; however, this appears to be the result of political positioning and establishment manipulation by the unions, which have shown their disregard for students throughout COVID,” Haas said at the time. “For example, the existence of charter schools was approved by the legislature and is endorsed, in general, by many legislators. However, in more than one case legislators who supported charter schools have changed their position now that applications have been submitted in their districts, due to obvious political pressure.”

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Tess Stovall” by Tess Stovall. 




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8 Thoughts to “Tennessee Public Charter School Commission Rejects Founders Classical Applications in Williamson and Sumner Counties”

  1. Dwayne Oxford

    “However, in more than one case legislators who supported charter schools have changed their position now that applications have been submitted in their districts, due to obvious political pressure.”

  2. 83ragtop50

    Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
    If charter schools are so bad give them enough rope to hang themselves. Then I will be quiet.

    But Tess and Penny are not willing to take the chance.

  3. Karen L Bracken

    Oh gee we cannot possible have a school that is teaching children how to read, write and do math and REAL history now can we. Personally, it is time for parents to wake up and pull their kids out of the public/charter school system and provide a real education instead of indoctrination right at your kitchen table. No excuses. If you want to do it you can, if not you will make excuses.

  4. Randy

    Gutless politicians who fail to do the heavy lifting appoint commissions to do their jobs. That enables them to focus on their real desire. Getting re-elected. Stop funding failure. support alternative education.

    1. Karen L Bracken

      Charters are NOT alternative forms of education. They ARE public schools that must follow the same state/federal regs as all public schools. The only difference is they are privately owned but make no mistake they ARE public schools. Charters offer choice in location not in education. Just look at the failure rate of Charters. How many apply to open, get money and never open their doors. Look at the failed academic achievement of these schools right here in TN. The charter snake oil salesmen slick talked people and no one did any real research on them. Another trojan horse in education.

      1. Horatio Bunce

        To be fair, the same ruse is used all over the country. Charters are not allowed except in lottery fashion (to limit numbers of those having “choice”) in only perennially failing districts. So they start acadenically behind with a fraction of public school funding and a year later the NEA monopoly will point the finger at their academic progress and say “I told you so”…while never owning how wrecked those kids were already by their work and couldn’t be brought to proficiency in a year. At least with charters, they are spending less to fail, they are voluntary, and if the parents want to go back to perennial failure they can.
        The charters are supposed to stall out. It is never intended to give school choice to the whole student body. Only that 5000 student lottery that is “guaranteed to fail”. TNGOP does not believe in it. They support selected (not elected) superintendents, Bill Gates Diploma Project/ Common Core, Haslam/Huffman no-bid PARCC testing contract, renting Utah test questions, homeschool when the NEA wants to take the year off, mask mandates by non-medical academic boards, etc.

      2. Randy

        Government regulation of education has led us to this point. Home schooling your children is public education. They set requirements on type as well. Even Private schools are not immune to the ills of the deep state. Most politicians are scared to death of the academic cabal that is destroying the youth in America . This is nothing new, its been going on for decades.

      3. RW Merryman

        I would like to see the actual numbers of the Classical School failures that you purport along with a comparison of learning scores between the two. I did notice that you fail to mention the failure rate of government school scores.

        This sounds more like more propaganda from the left!