Winners, losers in Cherokee charter school lottery wait on ruling

May 16, 2011

By Christopher Quinn

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ayoko Dogbe did not leave the campus of Cherokee Charter Academy Saturday disappointed.

She and hundreds of other parents showed up early and waited in the gym for lottery numbers to come up, indicating that one or more of their children had been selected for the 995 slots in the county’s first charter school. More than 2,400 potential students applied.

Her number came up early, and she joined the line of smiling parents accepting the offered slots and picking up information.

“I was nervous and excited, because you don’t know if you are going to get in,” she said.

Others left fretting or holding out hope after their children were not selected.

“I am kind of disappointed,” Jayna Nelson said. “But there is an opportunity still.”

Slots could reopen if parents turn down their selections.

Lisa Farmer said she was “not 100 percent sure” she would put son Zachary into the new kindergarten. Parents have seven days to accept.

The Farmers are not unhappy with their school now, but the charter school, scheduled to open in the fall if a court case goes in its favor, is near their house.

A charter school is a public school that is free from many of the state mandates and operates under the rules of its charter. Students who are accepted do not have to pay to attend.

Cherokee Charter Academy got its charter to operate from the state Charter Schools Commission, not from the local school board. The General Assembly set up the commission to give charters an alternate option for  approval, but seven Georgia school districts sued, saying the Legislature’s action was illegal. A ruling on the issue is expected early next week from the state Supreme Court.

Lyn Carden, who helped establish the Cherokee charter school, said it is moving forward and expecting a positive outcome.

Parents are keeping their options open.

Dwight Watson was attracted to the new school’s focus on individualized attention for students and the flexibility it would have to teach outside the county’s mainstream curriculum.

“If we don’t get into the charter school, we are looking at home schooling,” he said.

<a href=",2005:cluster=, 14 May 2011 19:51:25 GMT 00:00″>Winners, losers in Cherokee charter school lottery wait on ruling

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