UPDATE: Rutherford County voted Tuesday night to approve American Classical Academy, while Maury and Montgomery counties voted against ACA.


RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Will American Classical Academy (ACA) finally come to Tennessee?

In 2022, the answer was no.

“It was just in conversation with local communities and their desire to have these schools that we decided to try again,” said Phil Schwenk.

Schwenk is the Vice President of Schools for ACA and hopes this year the answer will be “yes.”

“For me, it’s as simple as families should have choices, and if a public classical charter school is where they would happen to have their kid then we feel that’s something they should be able to do,” he said.

The ACA is associated with Hillsdale College of Michigan.

Last summer, the president of the conservative college was caught making negative comments about public school teachers.

Shortly after, school districts in Montgomery and Rutherford counties denied ACA’s applications.

“I really believe that people think that this is a fight against charter schools,” said Angela Wynn. “It’s really not. It’s really against this charter school.”

Wynn is part of the group Safe RCS, and says it’s the conservative curriculum she and other parents strongly oppose.

“This is not about them trying to come in and provide a better education or better choices for our children,” she said. “This is really about them creating their own agenda and wanting to teach their brand of history to our children which is not cool.”

Schwenk said parents in multiple counties, including Rutherford and Montgomery, wanted them back so they applied again.

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“This entire conversation in Tennessee is something we were invited into and many families have made it very clear to us in the five counties that we’ve applied to that they would like this option for their families,” he said.

Wynn believes the group of people that want this isn’t as large as the ACA makes it seem.

“There’s a very small minority, a group of people that are for this,” she said. “They just happen to be a lot more vocal, and I feel like that’s pretty much the status quo for the way that the country is going right now.”

Both school districts’ charter review committees recommended their applications be denied though saying they failed to meet standards.

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“Obviously, if the review committees come out with their recommendations I would respect that,” said Schwenk. “Obviously, I disagree with a lot of their analysis of these applications, and we have seen over the last couple of cycles the inconsistencies with that.”

Tuesday evening, school board members in both counties will make a final decision, something Wynn hopes will mirror the one from last year.

“I really do feel confidently in the school board members that voted no last time,” she said. “They understood why they said no and I’m confident they will say no again.”

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Rutherford County Schools will make their final decision on the ACA’s application at their school board meeting that will start at 5:30 p.m.

Clarksville-Montgomery’s board meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m.