Updated 12:36 p.m.
The roughly $3.4 million in non-classroom administrative funds that state officials plan to withhold is part of a pool that includes student transportation, utilities and maintenance for 5,000 classrooms and more than 80,000 students, according to the statement.
None of those items is connected to the charter school approval process and “we are very disappointed” in the state’s action, the statement read.
The school system does not have a plan on how to deal with an October cut of more than $3 million from its budget; however, budget changes must be approved by the school board, according to the statement.
Updated 11 a.m.
“Apparently a few people at the top are angry with five of us for voting against Great Hearts and they’ve decided to take it out on 80,000 children,” said Frogge. “This will not hurt me or the board. It will hurt the less fortunate.”
Frogge, an attorney, said she believed the board’s vote last week against Great Hearts was legal.
The state gave Metro an "unclear mandate” about the charter school, she said. On the one hand, it asked Metro to approve the school. On the other hand, it also issued three contingencies for Great Hearts approval, one being diversity, she said.
“I felt the contingencies should be met before approval,” she said. “The state raised the diversity issue. My question was, 'How are they going to comply?'”
Frogge said she would be researching the legality of the board’s decision to withhold money from a local school board.
“It’s my understanding they can’t legally withhold money,” Frogge said.
Update 8:55 a.m.
The money is being withheld “as a consequence of the district’s refusal to follow state law,” the release said. The department is punishing the Metro school board because of the board’s refusal to approve the controversial Great Hearts Academies charter school even after directed to do so by the State Board of Education.
The money represents administrative non-classroom funds and will be withheld from Metro’s October allocation from the state’s Basic Education Program funding program.
“We were all hopeful that Metro Nashville’s school board would obey the law and avoid this situation,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “It is our job to enforce state law, and we have no choice but to take this action.”
When the Metro board voted last month to defer a decision on Great Hearts even after the state board directive, state official first indicated funds could be withheld as punishment, but then backed off that idea after Gov. Bill Haslem said he thought the conflict could be settled without monetary sanctions.
The Metro school board had several chances to comply with state law, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell said in the statement. “The Metro Nashville school board had two chances to follow the law, and twice it chose to not do so. This is the consequence,” she added.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey agreed, saying he supported the decision to uphold the law.
“The Metro Nashville school board's brazen defiance of state law limited options for thousands of Nashville parents and their children," Ramsey said in the statement. "The rule of law is not optional in Tennessee. Those who break it must be held accountable."
Updated 8:30 a.m.
The state is withholding a portion of the school system’s October administrative funds, according to a statement released by the department of education at about 8:30 a.m. today.
We were all hopeful that Metro Nashville’s school board would obey the law and avoid this situation,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “It is our job to enforce state law, and we have no choice but to take this action.”
The department intends to reallocate the funds to other districts in Tennessee using the state funding formula.