By Jessica Williams, The Lens staff writer |

The charter school community – and, no doubt, its critics as well – will benefit from an online compilation of laws regarding the operation of these schools.

The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools has posted the law library on its website above all for the use of the board members running the schools.

The in-depth legal guide lists state and federal laws applicable to charters and their boards. Included are public records laws, open meetings laws, and tax filing requirements for non-profits.

It will come as news to some charter board members that, though charter schools enjoy considerable autonomy, they can not flout public records laws or bar the press and the public from attending their meetings. Since its founding, The Lens has tracked much of charter schools’ disregard for these two legal requirements, most notably in an October initial report and a January follow-up.

The overwhelming majority of New Orleans public school students are now enrolled in charter schools, most of them started as part of a massive school reform effort following the state takeover of schools in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The idea for the library is credited to LAPCS director Caroline Roemer Shirley, spokeswoman Sarah Baird said.

“We are really trying to make sure we started reaching out and providing some of those member services that people really need,” she said. “We decided to compile this information into a sort of clearinghouse for charter schools.”

Though currently on the LAPCS website, eventually the library will have an independent web address for even greater ease of access, Baird said.

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her...