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More charter schools join funding lawsuit, as city council plans to probe issue

More charter schools join funding lawsuit against city school system.

The legal battle over funding for Baltimore city charter schools gained three more complainants Tuesday, bringing the number of schools now suing the city school system to 14.

Last week, Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, Creative City Public Charter School, and Empowerment Academy all joined in alleging the district has lacked consistency and transparency in how it allocates funding to their schools.

KIPP Baltimore, part of the high-profile, national KIPP charter school network, also announced last week that its schools would join in filing suit.

The new additions come as the city council prepares to probe the district at a hearing Wednesday about its plans for funding charter schools.

The hearing was spurred by  a resolution introduced by Councilman Bill Henry that called on the district to reconsider a proposal that would have reduced the budgets of several of the schools. It also calls on the district to fund charters per the state's charter law -- which the district says it cannot afford.

The move also comes amid measures to quell the heated dispute between district and charter leaders that has escalated in recent weeks, starting with the district's new proposed formula, which you can read about here.

Days later, the first round of charter schools filed a lawsuit against the district (not in response to the proposal, but in light of it). 

And on Sept. 22, just as hundreds of charter school parents and educators flooded city school headquarters, the mayor and city schools CEO Gregory Thornton announced that the district had scrapped its recent proposal and recruited former Mayor Kurt Schmoke to mediate talks between the groups.

Still, the city charter schools have not shown signs of backing off of their legal pursuit to settle the funding issue once and for all.

In a release, charter leaders said that they were still pursuing the lawsuit "to ensure funding equity and transparency for charters" and to ensure the district follows the state charter law.

“While we were glad to see the proposed funding formula pulled, there is a long history of difficulties with transparency and accountability with following the state formula,” said Allison Shecter, founder and director of Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, in a statement sent out on behalf of the group.

“We want to ensure that all children in the city school system receive full funding for their educations.”

erica.green@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EricaLG

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