MURFREESBORO — A Tennessee panel has kicked off hearings over whether to let charter schools linked to Hillsdale College open despite rejections from local school boards, a process unfolding in the wake of controversial comments about teachers by Hillsdale’s president.

On Wednesday, only advocates for opening the school in Rutherford County, which includes booming suburbs of Nashville, spoke during a public comment session in front of Tennessee Public Charter School Commission staff. Michelle Garcia, a volunteer board member for the American Classical Education charter group and a Rutherford County mother, afterward touted the testimony of the dozen or so people as an indicator that “local parents, teachers and students want more public education choices.”

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