“The kids are the ones we know who are being cheated in this city. This community is being ignored. ... We have a school board that is not receptive. … The superintendent probably can’t be trusted. ... That’s a lot of stuff to try to grapple with,” Jim King, president of Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, said at the council’s monthly meeting Thursday at Peachtree Presbyterian Church. “People supporting Atlanta Public Schools from Buckhead have had enough and are willing to look at any and all actions that will remedy the situation.”
King revealed an idea he said he came up with four or five years ago: Make Buckhead a county.
“A county can raise its own police force, ... its’ own school district; therefore, we control the schools to be closer to the people,” King said. “We could end up having [the] best not only private but public school system in the state overnight, have the safest community in the state overnight and still support the city of Atlanta.”
However, District 54 State Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta) said there were several legal issues with King’s idea, from both a federal and state constitutional angle. Lindsey is also an attorney with the firm Goodman McGuffey Lindsey & Johnson LLP.
“You have to look at this holistically,” he said. “We spend the second highest (rate) per child of any state in the Southeast. ... We have to fundamentally change how we’re looking at public education to how we’re adapting to the 21st century. Folks outside of Fulton County really don’t like the idea of splitting the county in two or three parts, particularly in rural counties.”
He said, under the state constitution, all citizens of the existing county must vote for it to “bust a county apart.”
“That’s going to be awfully difficult to do,” Lindsey said.
He also said it violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the constitution would have to be amended to accommodate 160 counties instead of the 159 existing ones.
“Folks in north Atlanta by and large have a choice and are well off enough to send kids to private schools. Fortunately, people choose to put them in public schools, and radically they’ve helped improve them,” Lindsey said. “ I don’t want to see us back up, I want to see us go all in. … I think it will require us to have more control of our schools in the north side of town.”