authorizer

Lee names members of standalone charter authorizer

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has appointed the members of the new state charter school authorizer. The new standalone panel can overturn local school board votes to reject charter school applications.

The members are:

  • Tom Griscom of Hamilton County
  • David Hanson of Davidson County
  • Alan Levine of Washington County
  • Terence Patterson of Shelby County
  • Mary Pierce of Davidson County
  • Christine Richards of Shelby County
  • Derwin Sisnett of Shelby County
  • Eddie Smith of Knox County
  • Wendy Tucker of Williamson County

Griscom is a former editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Smith is a former Republican state representative from Knoxville. Pierce was known as the Nashville school board’s leading charter school advocate before announcing last year she wouldn’t run for re-election. Hanson is a board member of the Beacon Center, Teach For America Nashville, and Valor charter schools.

Under the previous law, the State Board of Education served as the charter authorizer. But it had overturned only three of 21 denials, and supporters of the change hope the new panel will be less deferential to local school boards.

Democratic Rep. Antonio Parkinson of Memphis, who opposed the bill, told rural and suburban colleagues that under the bill “everybody gets a taste of the charter medicine” that has previously been applied to to cities.