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Success Prep co-founder resigns post for another in Texas: ‘Transformation is complete’

After four years of serving as upper school principal for Success Preparatory Academy, co-founder St. Claire Adriaan has turned in his resignation to the school’s board of directors in order to take a position at a charter school network in Texas.

St. Claire Adriaan

It will be effective at the end of the school year.

“He has been offered an opportunity to have an impact on future leaders for other schools and communities,” wrote Anderson Baker, chairman of the board of directors in a statement released by the school.

Adriaan said officials IDEA Public Schools, a network of 28 charter schools in Texas that is looking to expand, recently visited Success Prep and were impressed with the school culture Adriaan helped build at the school and offered him a position with room for advancement.

“I will be helping to bring the culture in the schools and in six months I’ll get to design my own school,” he said.

Adriaan moved to New Orleans after getting a call from New Schools of New Orleans about the growing charter school movement in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Adriaan said at that time he was a principal in Cleveland, Ohio, working with Gangopadhyay. He said they both came to New Orleans to start Success Prep. The K-6 school on Bienville Street opened in August 2009.*

Adriaan said he’s confident leaving the school with the foundation he helped build and that it’s time to move on to other schools.

“I don’t want to sound like Mary Poppins, but I come to transform and when the transformation is complete, I’m done,” Adriaan said.

The board met on Monday night to discuss the resignation and voted to move to a one-leader model, with lower school principal and co-founder Niloy Gangopadhyay taking over as leader of the entire school.

“The Board acknowledges that Adriaan and Niloy have worked together to bring Success Preparatory Academy to where it is today, and the Board is confident that Niloy will move the school forward to develop college bound students for leadership and lifelong learning,” Baker wrote.

The May 6 meeting to discuss Adriaan’s resignation was held in downtown New Orleans with about four hours notice to The Lens, less than the 24 hours advance notice required by Louisiana law.

Asked about how the school notified the public about this special meeting, Gangopadhyay said the announcement was posted on the school’s website prior to the 24 hour deadline.

Adriaan said he’s confident the school will continue to thrive under Gangopadhyay’s leadership.

“Everything is in place. People have bought into where we are in school culture,” he said. “I can step back knowing my kids are in good hands.”

He said he plans to keep up with current Success Prep students as they move toward graduation. He said he did the same with his former students in Chicago, Cleveland and San Diego.

Gangopadhyay will lead the school in 2013-14 into its fifth year, where it will expand to seventh grade.*

Ongoing challenges for Success Prep are to increase the student performance at the F school. The school has made some gains in recent years, but not enough to get it off the list of the state’s failing schools.

Recently, the Louisiana Department of Education granted the school an extension to its charter despite its failing student performance score.*

At the most recent Success Prep board meeting, members were told about a drop in kindergarten and first grade test scores. Gangopadhyay said inexperienced teachers and behavioral problems among students likely caused the slip in scores.

Challenges facing the school next year include how to accommodate more students in the school building that relies on partitions — not walls — to separate classrooms.

Architect Shawn Preau, an associate at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, who attended a previous Success Prep board meeting, said he did not think fire codes would allow for significant growth above the current 460 students and staff members in the building.

It plans to expand to K-8 at full capacity.

The next board meeting will be held on May 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the school, 2011 Bienville St.

Correction: St. Claire Adriaan was a principal in Cleveland prior to coming to New Orleans. Success Preparatory Academy will enter its fifth year and expand to the seventh-grade in 2013-14. The Louisiana Department of Education granted the school a charter extension despite its failing student performance score. An earlier version of this post contained inaccuracies on these points, all of which have since been corrected.

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  • He sounds more like Alice in Wonderland than Mary Poppins if he claims that the “transformation is complete” for an F rated school. “The Board acknowledges that Adriaan and Niloy have worked together to bring Success Preparatory Academy to where it is today….” Well that’s a feather in his cap, for sure!

  • “Recently, the Louisiana Department of Education granted the school a waiver to continue to operate despite its failing student performance score.”
    Why was this waiver granted? Why are some failing schools allowed to continue to exist while others have the plug pulled? What goes into making the choice as to which failing schools (like “Success” Prep–ironic name!) get to continue to operate, while others don’t? Is it due to personal or political connections, or something else? As a public agency, are the State Dept of Ed’s deliberations on these matters part of the public record?
    Dear Lens, you are doing a great job with slender resources and you have a lot on your plate already, but these are questions worth pursuing.

  • nickelndime

    OMG!!! I would rather work with Mary and Alice rather than this failed group of individuals – “F” “F” “F” “F” “F” = 5 !!! How many years of Fs does a charter school have to get before it is shut down? Here we go again: New Schools for New Orleans and the RSD. If only the corruption were local (I never thought I would say that), not national. The USDOE is part of it. The problem is that these groups want public education to be run like private corporations at public expense. NSNO works with the LDOE/RSD to administer federal grants and takes money off the top with every grant that flows through them. Billions of dollars in public money down the drain and academic years wasted.This group (charter management organizations – CMOs, along with the other nonprofit charter boards) are contributing to the trend toward nationalized corruption. IOW, the State, et al. wanted to do what the OPSB had been doing for years, and by gosh, they have done it.

  • Why shouldn’t the leaders of a charter school be held accountable for the school’s performance? If Success were a conventional public school they certainly would be.

    Sadly, the original ideal of Charters–which was the empowerment of parents, teachers and local communities–has become co-opted by corporate interests. Revoking the charter of a corporately run charter school deprives its operators of a cash cow. That would conflict with what has evidently become the mission of Louisiana’s State Department of Education and BESE Board under the current administration, i.e., the maximization of private profit from Public Ed.

    Look at all the D and F rated charter schools which hang around year after underperforming year, continuing to miseducate students at great expense, and then look at who holds the charters for these schools. Charters are only revoked if they are held by groups with no power in Baton Rouge. John White is more likely to grow wings and a tail and fly back to New York under his own power than he is to revoke the charter of a poorly performing but politically well connected charter school. The evidence for this pattern is writ larger than the graffiti on the wall of an abandoned laundromat, but year after underperforming year, White and his cronies come up with new machinations to keep the money machine flowing.

    Mercedes Schneider, a former professor of Applied Statistics at Ball State University, writes a blog under the name of Deutsch29. She has offered several excellent analyses of the precise methods of sleight-of-hand employed by White et al to accomplish this end.

  • nickelndime

    Omagawd omagawd. I would like to work with Alan and Gus, n, I would like to see John White and Patrick Dobard (I don’t care where he came from, but it is probably Louisiana) grow tail feathers and fly away. Now, what are we going to do with all of these nonprofits in this state that are sucking public money out of the education trough? Chicago – that’s it. The new New Orleans. Sister city of public corruption.