Wednesday November 25th, 2015 8:34PM

Barge scales back opposition to charter vote

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA - State School Superintendent John Barge has reached an agreement with Attorney General Sam Olens on the school chief's political activity regarding a statewide referendum on charter schools, a Barge spokesman said Friday.

But the Atlanta attorney whose complaint prompted the latest action says it's not good enough.

Barge spokesman Matt Cardoza confirmed that the Department of Education has removed from its website a written primer on the constitutional amendment that would allow the state to issue charters for private operators to run taxpayer-financed schools. Barge's Q&A does not explicitly tell Georgians how to vote, but makes his position clear.

Cardoza said Barge decided to take down the document after consulting with Olens' office about a written complaint from an Atlanta attorney. Glenn Delk, who has not disclosed his clients, accused Barge and several local school system authorities of violating state law that generally limits the use of public resources for political activity.

After the legal consultation, Cardoza said, "we voluntarily took down the document." Cardoza emphasized, though, that Barge remains opposed to the amendment, and he said the superintendent will still speak candidly about his opposition.

In his complaint, Delk cited state law and a series of Georgia Supreme Court decisions that he says block Barge and others from a variety of activities leading up to the Nov. 6 referendum. Delk said that includes speaking in his official capacity.

"John Barge is free to give a speech as an individual," Delk said.

The argument could become one of semantics. Cardoza said Barge "speaks to ... groups quite often but is not going to them to specifically or exclusively speak about the charter amendment." But, he added, "When he is asked questions about the amendment he will address them."

Delk also noted that Barge distributed his written primer to local school authorities around the state. That means it is still being used in a political fashion barred by the law, he argued.

Delk said he told an assistant state attorney general that he would wait until next week before deciding how to proceed, in part because he is waiting separately to hear from attorneys for local system officials.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office declined comment.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Couch names administrative team
Ahead of his scheduled swearing in Friday, Hall County Sheriff-elect Gerald Couch named his top administrative team Monday.
6:28PM ( 2 years ago )
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Hall Co. officials launch health-based initiative for employees
Hall County officials believe healthy county employees will be of greater service to the county. With that in mind, they have created a health-based fitness initiative to provide free fitness training for county workers.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
The big getaway: Thanksgiving travelers hit the road and pack airports, despite terror fears
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The big Thanksgiving getaway went into full swing Wednesday with drivers delighted by the lowest November gas prices in years and many airline passengers undaunted by terrorism fear...
7:10PM ( 1 hour ago )
Border Patrol: Nearly 5,000 unaccompanied children crossed US-Mexico border in October
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics show nearly 5,000 unaccompanied immigrant children were caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in October, almost double the...
5:53PM ( 2 hours ago )
Georgia sheriff revels in 'politically incorrect' sign
The Harris County sheriff has posted a sign outside his department that says his county is politically incorrect, and anyone who has a problem with that can leave.
By The Associated Press
5:27PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Interview: Coke executive addresses company's 'adversarial' relationship with critics
NEW YORK (AP) — Coke says it wants to mend relations with critics of its sugary drinks.Sandy Douglas, president of Coke North America, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Coke is hopin...
4:35PM ( 3 hours ago )
Gainesville officials say 2,600 gallons of sludge accidentally pumped into Flat Creek
City officials said an estimated 2,600 gallons of sludge was accidentally pumped into Flat Creek Tuesday evening.
2:31PM ( 6 hours ago )