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Parents, city of Atlanta want school annexation bill declared unconstitutional

Annexation, new cities Metro ATL Trending

Parents, city of Atlanta want school annexation bill declared unconstitutional

DeKalb County School District Administration and Industrial Complex on Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain. Photo by Dean Hesse

Atlanta, GA — In 2021, the state Legislature attempted to settle disputes over how annexations affect school boundaries by passing two different pieces of legislation.

Senate Bill 293 addresses annexations affecting DeKalb County Schools and City Schools of Decatur. Senate Bill 209 addresses annexations affecting DeKalb County Schools in Atlanta Public Schools.

Parents who wanted their children to attend Atlanta Public Schools and the city of Atlanta are now suing to have Senate Bill 209 declared unconstitutional.

DeKalb County Schools declined to comment on the lawsuit because it’s pending litigation. APS didn’t return a message seeking comment.

According to the lawsuit filed in Fulton County on Dec. 1, APS attorneys told parents living at Cavanaugh Avenue in East Atlanta that despite their home being annexed into the city, their child could not attend the school district and had to continue attending DeKalb County Schools, citing Senate Bill 209.

But parents and the city of Atlanta say the bill is unenforceable.

“First, SB 209 impermissibly alters two charters at once – DCSD’s and APS’s charters are both altered by SB 209’s prohibition on APS’s expansion into DCSD’s territory upon annexation by Atlanta,” the lawsuit says. “It has long been Georgia law that one piece of local legislation may not alter two or more jurisdictions’ charters simultaneously lest the act violate the Single Subject Rule.

“Second, as a local bill, SB 209 unconstitutionally alters statewide law only for portions of DeKalb County, a clear violation of the Uniformity Clause. Third, SB 209 also violates the Georgia Constitution by attempting to delegate the General Assembly’s legislative power to APS and DCSD.”

In addition to asking for the court to declare Senate Bill 209 is unconstitutional, the parents want their child to attend APS, pay APS taxes and vote in APS Board of Education Elections.

“Relatedly, Petitioners request a declaration that SB 209 is void and of no effect as to pending and future annexations by Atlanta in DeKalb County,” the lawsuit says. “Petitioners further request injunctive relief to compel Respondents to comply with those declarations.”

If the lawsuit is successful, it is unclear whether it will have any effect on the legislation pertaining to City Schools of Decatur annexations.

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