Parents of Craig Elementary School students got a chance on Jan. 26 to meet with the charter board — Friends of King Inc. — selected to take over the Treme school in an attempt to turn it around academically.

Some parents expressed resistance to the very idea of chartering, but seemed to grow more optimistic about the change after meeting Doris Hicks, the principal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology. Staring next fall, King’s board has been selected by state officials to guide Craig, a school now run directly by the Recovery School District.

“We come to you as partners in your child’s education,” said Hicks, who was joined by King board members, a Recovery School District official, and by Ora Wiley, Craig’s future principal. Craig mustered a handful of faculty, community members and about 10 parents for the get-together.

Last year Craig received a School Performance Score of 48.3, the lowest elementary school score in the city.

“I want to commend Ms. Hicks because in three meetings she has stressed the importance of parental involvement,” said Ellenette Hogan a substitute teacher with three children enrolled at Craig. Hogan serves on the Craig School-Community Advisory Council which, before the parents meeting,  presented Friends of King with its vision of Craig for the 2012-13 school year.

Some parents expressed concern about changes in the enrollment process. With the Recovery School District developing a common application form that centralizes enrollment procedures for charter schools, parents were concerned their children would not be able to stay at Craig.

“Every child at Craig is guaranteed a spot if they want to return,” said Chris Meyer, a deputy RSD superintendent.

Parent Harold Bailey said that at a meeting in the fall he got the impression parents and the public would have more say in the selection of a charter operator to upgrade Craig. He said there has been a lack of communication from RSD.

“This is the first time I’ve been told our principal’s not going to be here any more,” Bailey said.

Tanesha Abdin has a child in the Pre-K 3 program at Craig, the only school in the city to offer the program. Keeping the Pre-K 3 program would show the community that Friends of King Inc. is committed to the community, education and the children’s success, she said.

“Hopefully [the charter] will be able to be here for a long time and be able to make some lasting changes,” she added.

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...