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House Passes Controversial Charter School Bill Setting Up Fight With CMS

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The controversial bill that would allow Cornelius, Mint Hill, Matthews and Huntersville to operate a charter school passed in the House today.

In response, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials say House Bill 514 will lead to more segregated schools. Supporters of the legislation say it will reduce overcrowding in the townships.

The measure passed by a vote of 64 to 53. It previously passed in the Senate Monday 27 to 18. 

Opponents say the next step is to challenge the law in court. North Carolina NAACP officials describe the law as racially discriminatory and have vowed to wage an “all-out fight” in the courts to repeal it. At a press conference Tuesday, education leaders and local clergy also said they would challenge the law legally.

Legislators are treating HB 514 as a local law that does not require the governor’s signature. CMS officials say it should be a state bill because it deals with teachers’ state retirement pensions and in its final form, expanded to include the towns of Huntersville and Cornelius.

“The fact that the two Northern towns were added has taken it out of local bill status and made it a statewide bill so the governor does have the option to veto,” said school board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart.

If that challenge is successful, school officials predict that Gov. Roy Cooper will veto the legislation, who has expressed concern about HB 514. If that happens, many are predicting that the law would not have the votes in the House to override a veto.

The law will also allow for municipalities to use property tax dollars to build and operate a charter school. Critics have warned that property taxes will have to be raised to make this happen.