LOUISVILLE, Ky. — According to Kentucky law, Charter schools are allowed in the commonwealth, but after yesterday’s circuit court decision there is no way to fund the schools. On Monday, Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that House Bill 9 is unconstitutional. The law established a funding mechanism for charter schools in the commonwealth.

What You Need To Know

  • Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that House Bill 9 is unconstitutional.

  • The law established a funding mechanism for charter schools in the commonwealth

  • Shepherd said it is unconstitutional to use tax dollars to support charter schools 

  • The decision may be appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court

The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions describes itself as Kentucky’s first and only free market think tank.

Jim Waters, the organization’s president, said the state needs charter schools.

“It’s important economically, it’s important for the future of our commonwealth and our country and most of all, it’s important for those students who never would have a chance in life without better education,” said Waters. 

The ruling from Shepherd came Monday afternoon. 

“The challenged legislation is not consistent with the constitutional requirement for ‘an efficient system of common schools’ under Section 183 of the constitution… and that the use of tax dollars to support charter schools violates Sections 184 and 186 of the constitution,” he said. 

The Council for Better Education, whose mission is to ensure constitutional commitments to students and common schools, was the plaintiff in the case. They fully support the court’s ruling.

“This was a violation of our constitution. It was about, you know, taking public funds and using them for private purposes, which violates our constitution,” said Tom Shelton, one of the plaintiffs. 

Shepherd said there is another issue than just using taxpayer dollars.

“The companion idea that common schools must be free and open to all children and serve all children has been part of the law for over a hundred years…,” Shepherd said.

The plaintiffs agree. 

“It’s our belief that common schools are in place to help all students because we are by law, you know, we take all students. All students are accepted. When you have a private school, they decide who is accepted,” said Shelton.

Waters said he wants to see charter schools that let all students in without any kind of restrictions.

“I think we should remove the caps and allow every family in Kentucky to provide the best education for their children,” said Waters. 

Both Waters and Shelton said there is a chance for the decision to be appealed and then it would be up to the Kentucky Supreme Court. 

The defendants in the case were the Commissioner of Education, the Kentucky Board of Education, and its chair. Attorney General Daniel Cameron intervened to defend the statute along with Gus La Fontaine, who is an applicant seeking approval for a charter school in Madison County.