Charter school could be shut down

Friday, March 14th 2008, 10:13 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

Charter schools in Oklahoma are looking at the possibility of being shut down, and a lawsuit filed by the Tulsa school district could be to blame.

The lawsuit says the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act of 1999 is unconstitutional and its already having an impact on one local charter school.

Dr. Freda Deskin is the founder of ASTEC, one of nearly a dozen charter schools in the metro that could close if the state Supreme Court agrees with the Tulsa school district and declares the Charter Act unconstitutional. The Charter Act paved the way for charter schools to operate in Oklahoma.

The lawsuit filed against the Department of Education states the charter law is unconstitutional because they are calling it a special law.

Special, because most Oklahoma school districts are exempt from allowing charter schools to operate within their community. Tulsa's school district said that is not fair.

"They say their issue is they just want to make sure the law is being followed," Deskin said.

Dr. Deskin feels her 8-year-old school is safe and the court will find that no laws are being broken. However, she is afraid the negative attention the suit brings could keep scare parents away.

"It could make those parents concerned, well if I send my child there the school will close down in the middle of the year," Deskin said.

And because the school's financial future is now uncertain, plans to move ASTEC into a bigger and better location is now on hold.

"Because we know lenders are not going to want to lend to us with pending litigation even though we feel this lawsuit is really ridiculous and it's going to be done away with," Deskin said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education would only say that the case has been referred to the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office.

Calls to the attorney representing the Tulsa school district were not returned.

Dr. Deskin said parents should write to lawmakers and express their concerns with this suit and the laws surrounding the operations of charter schools.