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Algiers charter group hears public input on return to Orleans school board

Orleans Parish School Board member Leslie Ellison and Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Padian debated members of the Algiers Charter School Association board of trustees at a public hearing to gather input about the charter organization’s upcoming vote to remain under Recovery School District oversight or to return to the OPSB.

Martin Behrman Charter School Academy of Creative Arts and Sciences, Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy of Global Studies and L.B. Landry-O. P. Walker College and Career Preparatory High School are all eligible to move from Recovery School District oversight to OPSB’s.

“Behrman, Walker and Eisenhower are no longer in recovery,” Ellison said. “I believe the intent of the law is for schools to return to OPSB oversight.”

Ellison referenced a lawsuit filed by the OPSB arguing against the open-ended timeline for schools to remain under RSD oversight.

To be eligible to move to Orleans Parish oversight, a school must have been in the RSD for at least four years, and have a 2012 school performance score of 80 or above and a 2013 score of 54 or above. RSD charters keep their status as local educational agencies if they return to their local school board. That status enables them to receive some federal funds directly.

ACSA board member D’Juan Hernandez, who voted to return to OPSB last year, warned the audience to “be careful of the red herring” in the arguments provided by proponents of OPSB oversight.

“It’s not that you don’t go back (to OPSB), but when you do, make sure you can sustain what you built for yourself,” Hernandez said. “Let’s stick to why we are having this conversation. Let’s stay out of who’s better, RSD or OPSB.”

Hernandez and ACSA board president Colin Brooks also cited the lack of a current superintendent and strategic plan and ongoing internal troubles at OPSB as reasons they are unlikely to vote to return this year.

For many, the argument was for locally run schools, “The RSD never comes out to these meetings. They’re way up in Baton Rouge and you can’t get a meeting with them,” said Larry Hammond, a volunteer with ACSA.

“We were elected to serve the people of our district,” Ellison said. “Anyone can stop me in the grocery store.”

The ACSA board will vote Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Landry Walker, 1200 L.B. Landry Blvd. in Algiers. All decisions to change oversight must be reported to the Louisiana Board of Secondary and Elementary Education by Jan. 1.

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