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Posted: August 11, 2014 4:50 p.m.

Judge sides with Ga. charter school in dispute

RIVERDALE, Ga. (AP) — A judge on Monday sided with a charter school seeking to open in Clayton County, ordering local officials to conduct required inspections so some 200 students can begin classes.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the order means students could begin school later this week.

Officials with Utopian Academy for the Arts had gone to court arguing Riverdale officials kept the school from opening with a confusing round of requests and paperwork. The school had been scheduled to open Aug. 4 and was open briefly Monday before being shut down because of the pending inspections.

Judge Matthew O. Simmons called the dispute a "political issue," noting some in the community didn't want the school to open.

"The city needs a trigger to get the inspection done. I'll be the trigger. Get the inspections done," Clayton County Superior Court Judge Matthew O. Simmons said after hearing arguments from the school's attorneys and lawyers for the City of Riverdale.

Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon told the newspaper that the judge's order provided a solution for both parties.

WSB-TV reported the city's fire marshal showed up at the school after most parents had dropped students off for the day and said the correct inspections hadn't been done on the building's alarm and sprinkler systems.

The school's principal, Frederick Birkett, said the systems had been checked over the weekend and school officials needed final clearance from the city. Birkett said his goal was to open the school Tuesday.

 

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