John McDonogh group sends open letter decrying ‘Blackboard Wars’; Tuesday meetings planned

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The founder of Future Is Now, the charter school organization leading the controversial new management of John McDonogh High, plans to attend a Tuesday night meeting of parents and community members concerned about the school, according to meeting organizers.

The Future Is Now Executive Board will be meeting at the school at 10 a.m. Founder, chairman and CEO Steve Barr is expected to attend an additional 6 p.m. meeting of the John McDonogh Advisory Board, a community organization formed to support and oversee the school’s charter board.

Led by Clarence Robinson, the advisory board has been openly critical of “Blackboard Wars,” the Oprah Winfrey Network documentary about the school and Future Is Now leaders’ efforts to turn it around.

Robinson’s group on Friday sent out an open letter to Winfrey, Barr, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and others describing the show as “a source of negative, exploitative depictions of the students and the school.”

The letter challenges factual assertions it says are made in the show about the safety of the school and its students.

“These blanket statements stereotype our school and our children,” the letter says. “They reinforce low expectations for John McDonogh students. Students who are told repeatedly that they are violent, troubled and beyond redemption will soon come to believe it.”

Tuesday’s meetings are both scheduled to be held at the school, located at 2426 Esplanade Ave.

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