The monthly board meeting of the New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy was canceled for lack of a quorum, but those present took questions from the floor. Bad weather had made for hazardous road conditions and only three members were present for the March 22 meeting.
Dr. Marcellus Grace, a nominee for board membership, was present, but the vote on his admission to the board was postponed. Grace, former Dean of Xavier University, has experience in medical, military, and administrative fields.
By way of apology to the parents who had come to canceled meeting, the board took questions.
Colonel Bill Davis, the school commandant, cited a letter sent to parents last week as his answer to questions about curriculum and testing preparations. The letter explains NOMMA’s intended compliance with state curriculum and mandatory testing requirements, as well as report card and grading procedures.
Parent Rachel Hoag asked, “Can you explain, in short terms, what the admission criteria is? I feel like we were led to believe things would be different than how they are. As a parent, I might not have decided to send my kid here if I saw kids with an ankle bracelets on, and that kind of thing.”
Davis explained that the school’s admission criteria were passing the LEAP test and enrolling in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program. As an open-enrollment charter, the school was not at liberty to discriminate or do preliminary testing on applicants.
Davis said that, when it comes to behavioral issues, “People don’t always tell you; I am not allowed to ask those kinds of questions, so that’s been a learning process as well.
“I feel like that was really a concern this year,” Hoag said.
“Yes, I agree,” Davis said. He stressed that though the school, by charter, has the right to mandate entering the officer training corps program as a condition of admission, disenrolling students who do not follow the code of conduct was a more difficult decision and a complicated process. “I don’t think it’s really fair to expel someone, with everything that goes with that, when they really just don’t want to be part of JROTC,” he said.
Davis stressed that the school was working to involve parents more fully in the admissions process. That way, parents and students would know what they were getting into, and the school would benefit from increasing numbers of students who wanted the sort of “leadership and citizenship” focus the school provides.
Present were board president Col. Terry Ebbert, along with members Carol McCall and Courtney Bagneris.