ACLU, Parent Sue Great Hearts Academies

By Will Stone
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 7:12pm
(Photo by Will Stone - KJZZ)
One of the Arizona schools run by Great Heart Academies.

Great Hearts Academies — one of Arizona’s largest public charter schools — is being sued for allegedly violating state oversight laws.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and a former Great Hearts’ parent filed the lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleges Great Hearts has a pattern of making important policy decisions behind closed doors and being in violation of the Arizona Open Meeting law. It centers on the experience of parent and LGBTQ advocate Robert Chevaleau who withdrew his child after the board passed a policy in 2016 that many called discriminatory against transgender students.

The board quietly removed the policy this year after public backlash.

Kathy Brody, ACLU of Arizona legal director, said Chevaleau made multiple efforts to attend meetings of the Great Hearts board of directors and obtain records, but was denied access.

“That organization has taken virtually every step possible to insulate itself from public oversight and to avoid public accountability for operation of its public charter school,” Brody said.

The lawsuit asks the court to order Great Hearts to provide records related to the now-defunct transgender policy and to declare that board meetings must be open to the public.

A statement from Great Hearts said it had not yet seen the complaint, but that it fully complies with the law and has cooperated with public records requests from the ACLU.

“They have chosen to waste more resources through this course of action and we are forced to respond in court,” the statement concludes.

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