Two local school superintendents join Accountability Act lawsuit

Published 08/29 2014 06:31PM

Updated 09/01 2014 03:56PM

The Alabama Acountability Act, also known as the school choice law, was passed last year.  The law allows students at failing schools to transfer to other public schools or private ones.

“The intent of the law, I think, was good to start with, but it has really hurt us in the big picture, when you take 40 million dollars away from our public schools, which could have been used, we believe, in a better way,” said Donny Bynum, superintendent of Dale County Schools.

The law was ruled unconstitutional in May, and state legislators are appealing the ruling, but Bynum and Dothan City Schools Superintendent Tim Wilder have joined 28 other school systems, filing a lawsuit to uphold the ruling.  They say the 40 million dollars reserved in the education budget to cover the costs of the law are going to waste.

"How many students do you have that can financially leave with a tax credit and go to another failing school or go to a private school, and that number is miniscule across the state,” Bynum said.

He said those funds are better used to alleviate problems like crowded classrooms and school transportation.  While Dale County Schools doesn't have any failing schools, Bynum says $150,000.00 is at stake for his school system.

"We just want to make sure our voices are heard, not our voices, but our children's voices, and see what kind of impact this has on public education,” said Bynum.

Legislators supporting the law say it hasn't cost the school systems anything, and they say the focus should be on improving the schools instead of filing lawsuits.  Bynum and others opposing the law say otherwise.

"We're not in the business to file lawsuits.” said Bynum.  “We're in the business of standing up for our children, and we believe our children have been wronged by this piece of legislation.  And if we don't stand up for our children, who will stand up for them?”

The decision is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, and the law will remain in effect until a final ruling is made.

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