AG’s brief dismantles arguments for charter schools

Greetings from the MTA Division of Legal Services to our local affiliates and all of our more than 110,000 members.

I am the general counsel of the MTA’s in-house legal division, which by January 2016 will include 11 lawyers (including me), two paralegals and three administrative support people. The legal issues and cases we deal with on your behalf are varied, fascinating, tough and complex. From time to time, I will post here about matters of importance to many — and perhaps even to all — of our members. I hope you keep coming back!

One of the central issues the MTA is confronting involves the change and growth of the charter school movement across the country and here in Massachusetts. For many reasons, charter schools around the country have not solved — and in many places have worsened — the perceived problems in our public schools. You can click here to learn about charter school issues.

Here at home, there is a well-financed ballot initiative on track for the 2016 election that would lift the statutory caps on charter schools. And maybe you know about the many bills pending before the Legislature, including an MTA-backed bill to stop the expansion of charters.

Now the courts are involved, too. You may know that three “white shoe” law firms in Boston filed a much-ballyhooed lawsuit alleging that the constitutional rights of five unnamed Boston students are violated by the charter school cap.

Do yourself a favor: Read the brief filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey . In no uncertain terms, the attorney general dismantles the legal arguments for the constitutional claim. And she gives a great tutorial on charters for the courts and for all other readers.

The Legal Division is watching the case very closely, and we have been in contact with other advocacy groups and interested lawyers about the matter. Right now, on behalf of our membership, we are waiting and watching, and we will step in if necessary at the right time.

Ira Fader
MTA General Counsel