Morris Jeff Community School will stay under Recovery School District oversight next year, board members decided at a special meeting Wednesday night.
The school, which closed after Hurricane Katrina and reopened as a type 5 charter under the RSD in the 2010-11 school year, became one of 17 eligible this year for transfer to Orleans Parish School Board oversight after improving performance scores in 2012 and 2013.
Members who voted Wednesday agreed that the school didn’t need a “distraction” from the school’s middle-grade expansion, as Principal Patricia Perkins explained.
“The faculty discussed the pros and cons last month,” Perkins said. “The overwhelming feeling is that we kind of want to stay on the path that we’re on right now, because it’s known and we’re growing our middle school.”
Board members Aesha Rasheed and Kamala Baker-Jackson recused themselves from the vote. Rasheed recieves funding from both the RSD and the Orleans Parish School Board, and Baker-Jackson works for the RSD.
During a community engagement meeting held prior to the board meeting, OPSB administrator Sean Perkins pitched potential benefits he said Morris Jeff could receive by switching districts.
“The Recovery School District’s job is to handle schools that are in recovery. They try and get schools to get out of that recovery zone,” he said. “OPSB’s job is to ensure that every school in it flourishes.”
By making the switch, he added, Morris Jeff officials could send a message to community members that “it’s a high-performing school.”
“That’s already been publicized,” Principal Perkins countered.
Ultimately, the board agreed to find out more information about the OPSB in coming months, and to start attending meetings in order to prepare for a possible switchover in the future.
“I think we all recognize that the purpose of the OPSB is to accept successful schools and nurture them,” Board Secretary Jennifer Weishaupt said. “What are we going to do as a charter to make changes and advocate for change so we’re comfortable and when we feel like the time is right, we’re ready to move?”
Board president Wanda Anderson-Guillaume agreed.
“I think it’s time for some fostering of relationships,” Anderson-Guillaume said.