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Disruptive students expelled; RSD and city offer "no help" on safety issues

At its monthly board meeting the Choice Foundation unanimously voted to remain under the Recovery School District and not return to the Orleans Parish School Board at the end of the 2012–13 school year.

The Choice board governs Lafayette Academy, which was one of more than a dozen schools eligible to move under the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board following a period of academic improvement.

“OPSB has a track record of academic failure for the past two decades and has no experience in running a school like ours,” Choice Foundation’s Executive Director Mickey Landry said during the meeting. Also, Lafayette will lose between $900,000 to $1 million next year under the stewardship of OPSB.

“And we still don’t know where our allegiances will lie with the new school board,” Landry added, referring to the recent Nov. 6 school board elections.

In other school news, school administrators once again discussed the continuing violence in the surrounding communities, which has escalated since the start of the school year.

Four extremely disruptive Lafayette students have been expelled since the start of the school year, Landry said. The school had no expulsions in the last two years.

He added that the lack of mental health services and social workers for the poor in New Orleans has contributed to the rise in emotional issues and violent behavior, especially at schools located in low income communities.

“We have also had no help from police superintendent Ronal Serpas, folks from RSD, or anyone from the mayor’s office,” Landry told the board. “We have to take these issues into our own hands and deal with them.”

Board member Joseph Charbonnet echoed Landry’s concerns and asked the board to handle disruptive and potentially violent students, even “if we have to go it alone without RSD’s blessing or approval.”

“This board has a duty to protect its staff and students against dangerous students from remaining on school grounds,” Charbonnet said. “We can’t wait until a student hurts a teacher before we take action.”

During his facilities update, board president James Huger said renovations at its central office location at the former Grace Episcopal Church would begin next week. Construction had been delayed by a termite infestation and should be completed in 8 weeks.

Lastly, Director of Development Jeanne Huber said the school had raised a quarter of its $425,000 fundraising goal for the year.

The meeting was adjourned shortly afterwards.

The next board meeting is Nov. 28 at 4 p.m at Esperanza Charter.

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