Jackson, MS–On August 10, 2016, the Mississippi Justice Institute, on behalf of three public charter school parents, filed a motion to intervene in the charter school lawsuit recently brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center. After filing the motion, the Mississippi Justice Institute held a press conference on the Mississippi Department of Education’s lawn. Two of the parent intervenors spoke about why they are asking the courts to allow their voices to be heard in this case. Gladys Overton, one of the parents listed in the motion, exposed how her child struggled with bullies in her traditional district school.

“I knew that I needed to come to my child’s rescue. I needed to give her a fighting chance,” said Overton.

Overton’s child was a founding scholar at Reimagine Prep in 2015. Last week, Reimagine Prep opened their doors for their second year. Reimagine Prep is operated by RePublic Schools, a charter school management organization based in Nashville, TN.

Tiffany Minor, a second intervenor, spoke on behalf of her daughter who started at Smilow Prep, another RePublic School, two weeks ago.

“I’m here today for my daughter. The lawsuit that was filed threatens to close her new school and send us back to the district that was not meeting our needs. My family needs this public option, and I intend to fight for it,” said Minor.

All three parents filing the motion also have children in Jackson Public Schools.

“You have heard from these parents of children that are in both charter schools and JPS schools. All they want is an opportunity to be heard in the courtroom in a lawsuit that affects their direct rights more than almost anyone else’s,” said Mike Hurst, director of the Mississippi Justice Institute and the parents’ lead counsel.

Mississippi First is not affiliated with the Mississippi Justice Institute but supports the right of charter school parents to intervene in this lawsuit. Executive Director Rachel Canter said, “The stories of the mothers who spoke at the press conference yesterday were extremely moving; having spoken to other Jackson public charter school parents in the last year, we know that these mothers are not alone in the relief and joy they feel that their children are able to access a better school for them through the charter school law. This lawsuit threatens to take this option away from these families and return their children to circumstances that any parent would find unacceptable.”

The Mississippi Public Charter Schools Act became law in 2013. In the 2015, the first two charter schools–ReImagine Prep and Midtown Public Charter School–opened in Jackson, MS. A third charter school, Smilow Prep, another RePublic School, opened in Jackson this fall. 

The mission of Mississippi First is to champion transformative policy solutions ensuring educational excellence for every Mississippi child. Mississippi First is a leading voice for state-funded pre-K, high-quality public charter schools, and rigorous state learning standards. For more information about Mississippi First, visit www.mississippifirst.org or contact Executive Director Rachel Canter at 601.398.9008.

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