The Tennessee State Board of Education will open a new Nashville charter school after it overturned the local school board’s decision not to approve the Rocketship school.

The decision by the state board marks the third charter school to be greenlighted for operations after denial by the Nashville school board. The Rocketship school will open in the 2021-22 school year.

The state board voted unanimously on Friday to approve the recommendation by the state board’s staff to open a new Rocketship Public Schools charter in South Nashville, according to a state board spokeswoman. The board also denied a second Nashville charter school applicant, recommending it to be denied by the state board’s staff.

“We are grateful that the state board recognized the need for high quality school options in Southeast Nashville and agreed that we are the right partner to help fill that need,” said James Robinson, Rocketship Public Schools of Tennessee director. “We look forward to sharing more information soon with Antioch families about our proposed location and school plans.” 

In her recommendation, state board executive director Sara Morrison said that Rocketship “has a clear track record of success in Nashville and has demonstrated a clear need in the southeast region of Nashville for additional high quality school options.”

The Nashville school board voted against the opening of the school in September despite the district’s charter school review team recommending the opening.

The board cited multiple reasons, including issues in 2017 with the school, its budget and academics. Rocketship representatives argued the board provided “arbitrary” reasons for the denial of the application.

The state board’s review team, however, agreed the school should be opened. With its approval, the state board will now oversee the opening and outcomes of the charter school.

The state board also followed its staff recommendations on six other charter school appeals.

The state board voted to open Beacon College Preparatory Charter School in Shelby County. It also denied four others recommended not to be opened, including Nashville Collegiate Prep.

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Reach Jason Gonzales at [email protected] and on Twitter @ByJasonGonzales.

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