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Confusion reigns as Akili Academy's board discusses takeover by Crescent City Schools

At the June 25 meeting of the Akili Academy board, its last as the governing body of Akili Academy, questions about Crescent City Schools’ takeover of its charter ruled the day.

Most of the discussion centered on Akili’s financials: Are Akili’s current federal grants transferable to the new charter management organization? If so, will the current Akili board or the Crescent City board be responsible for dispersing the funds?

Akili, which will be run by Crescent City Schools starting July 1, still has not completed the necessary procedures and paperwork to hand over control. The Akili Academy board initiated the discussion that led to the handover of control to Crescent City Schools, and many, if not all, of Akili’s board members expect to continue to serve as members of a unified board.

The Akili board could not reach a consensus on the proper way to tackle ongoing problems such as issuing new payroll checks to staffers who will continue working after the takeover, filing taxes with two separate identification numbers, transferring funds to an account managed by Crescent City Schools and accounting for all revenues before the takeover.

In discussions during the meeting, Board President Gary Bono expressed concerns over how the dissolving board managed, or failed to manage the transition. He blamed state and federal officials for poorly administering charter takeovers. His particular concern was a lack of communication and information from state and federal authorities on proper governing procedures.

He also reiterated his concerns about Akili’s rising per pupil spending and hoped the new management organization would address the issue.

Jeff Teague, board treasurer, echoed Bono’s comments and added that the board and school administrators should have been advised on how to properly dissolve the board to ensure a smooth transition.

Board members decided that it would be in the school’s best interests to continue to meet monthly, as the Akili Academy board, and to slowly dissolve the board over the coming months in order to deal with lingering issues as they arise.

The board quickly approved the 2012-2013 budget for Akili Academy with little change from the first draft.

The board later went into a 45-minute executive session to discuss the performance of several school staff members, culminating with Akili principal Julie MacFetters leaving the room in tears.

Neither MacFetters nor the board would comment on the issue.

The Akili board adjourned the meeting while in executive session, which appears to violate the provisional law: La. R.S. 42:16 stating: “no final or binding action shall be taken during an executive session.” A vote to close a meeting would appear to fit the definition of a binding action.

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