James W. Shelson Defeats Challenge to MS Charter School Act

October 11, 2019 04:50 PM

Jim Shelson, a partner at Phelps Dunbar LLP, assisted in defeating a challenge to the Mississippi Charter School Act (Act). Shelson represented a charter school association. Under the Act, charter schools are funded by a school district paying a charter school an amount equal to the property tax receipts per student for each student from the district that attends a charter school. The Mississippi Constitution provides that “[a]ny county or separate school district may levy an additional tax, as prescribed by general law, to maintain its school districts.” Plaintiffs claimed that this provision authorizes a school district to maintain only “its schools.” Plaintiffs asserted the Act violated the Mississippi Constitution by requiring school districts to share property taxes with charter schools, which Plaintiffs alleged were separate school districts. The Mississippi Supreme Court rejected Plaintiffs’ claims, holding that charter schools are not separate school districts:  “Charter schools are public schools, and the Act does not establish a charter school as its own school district – separate from the school district in which it is located.”  

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