TSTA sues Longview ISD for exceeding charter enrollment limit

The suit, filed in state district court in Gregg County, seeks a declaratory judgment that Longview ISD’s granting of multiple charter school applications should be declared null and void because they violate a state law limiting charter enrollment to 15 percent of a district’s total enrollment the previous school year.

The total Longview enrollment for the 2018-19 school year was 8,457 students. Six campuses with a combined enrollment of 2,908 students during 2018-19 have been converted to charters. That is more than double the 1,268 students who account for the statutory limit.

The Texas Education Code provides that, regardless of the limit, a district charter may be granted to any campus that has received the state’s lowest performance rating. But none of the campuses that Longview has turned over to charters has the lowest performance rating. Three have Bs, and three have Cs under the state’s most recent accountability grades.

“Longview ISD also has considered converting the entire school district to charters,” said TSTA President Noel Candelaria. “That would remove important educational standards, such as class-size limits for elementary students, which are crucial to effective teaching and learning.”

“Charter schools don’t have to have certified teachers, don’t have to honor teacher employment rights and often pay their teachers less than traditional public schools. All these factors can result in high teacher turnover, which is detrimental to students,” he added.

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