The Tennessee State Board of Education voted to approve two Nashville charter schools Monday, overturning the local school board’s decision in July to deny new charters. The decision paves the way for Nashville Collegiate Prep to open in 2021 and KIPP Antioch College Prep High School to open in 2023.
While controversial, the state’s decision wasn’t unexpected. During a Nashville school board meeting in July, when they rejected the applications, member Sharon Gentry said the local board was essentially left powerless.
She alluded to an appeal process that went into effect in 2014, allowing state board officials to overrule charter school denials made by districts operating priority schools.
“The introduction of charter schools into our district is not done in the spirit of partnership. It just isn’t,” said Gentry. “So the vote that we take here tonight, we all know that there is a process developed at the state several years ago to be able to circumvent this.”
This marks the third KIPP school to be approved after local denial since the appeal process went into effect. The state board opened KIPP Antioch College Prep Elementary School for the 2018-2019 school year and KIPP Antioch College Prep Middle School for the following year.
“Since we opened our elementary and middle schools in Antioch, the community has shown great demand for what we offer — we currently have over 650 families on our wait list,” said Erin Holt, the director of communications for KIPP Nashville, in a statement to WPLN News. “We look forward to opening our high school in Antioch for the 2023-2024 school year, welcoming both current KIPP Antioch College Prep Middle School students and new families.”
Holt says the state board’s decision will allow the charter network to create a quality high school option for the growing number of families in Southeast Nashville. The state’s approval is final and cannot be appealed by Metro Schools.