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03 November 2015

Judge Rules Fulton County Schools Annexed by Atlanta Become Property of Atlanta Public Schools

Fulton County Superior Court Judge John J. Goger recently handed down a ruling that could help provide clarification for property owners and registered voters seeking to annex into Atlanta.

The 29-page opinion states, in no uncertain terms, "the General Assembly intended to and did make the City of Atlanta's and [Atlanta Public Schools'] boundaries coterminous upon annexation of land into the City and provided that school property in annexed areas would go to the entity operating the City's schools."

Judge Goger's ruling, which can be read below, came after the City of Atlanta filed suit asking the court to invalidate a local constitutional amendment (LCA) that says the Atlanta Independent School District is linked to the Atlanta city limits.

Attorneys for Atlanta argued that the 1950 LCA was repealed by the 1983 Georgia Constitution, and that the state legislature did not properly enact legislation continuing the LCA. In addition, Atlanta attorneys requested the court declare that either the Georgia General Assembly or the City of Atlanta "may determine whether any annexation by the City within Fulton County extends the boundaries of Atlanta Public Schools.

Judge Goger rejected both arguments, and dismissed Atlanta's case.

The short-term effect of Judge Goger's ruling is that residents in the Sandtown community now know for certain that if they are annexed into Atlanta, A. Philip Randolph Elementary and Sandtown Middle schools become the property of the Atlanta Independent School District.

The communities of Sandtown, Loch Lomond, and South Oaks all submitted petitions to Atlanta requesting annexation into the city earlier this year. The area proposed to be annexed includes A. Philip Randolph Elementary and Sandtown Middle schools. Both schools are currently operated by Fulton County.

When the annexation petitions were first submitted, some parents expressed concern about which schools their children would attend -- Atlanta Public Schools or Fulton County Schools.

If the Atlanta annexation of those three communities move forward, it would be left up to the Atlanta School Board to determine the future use of Sandtown Middle and A. Philip Randolph Elementary schools.

Atlanta v APS Ruling