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Live blog: Audubon Charter School holds lottery Wednesday and Thursday

Because Audubon Charter School has more applicants than seats, school officials will hold a public lottery for the 2014-15 school year. The Lens will live-blog the two events here:

  • Wednesday, March 12: Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten
  • Thursday, March 13: Grades 1-8

Each event starts at 9 a.m.*

Parents of applicants should have received their child’s number in the mail. Officials will call out those numbers to determine the order for offering admission. Because the school has not said how many slots are available, it’s unclear how many of those students will be accepted.*

Both events are open to the public. They’ll be held in Audubon’s Upper School Cafeteria, 1111 Milan St.

The blog will be be archived here after the event ends.

Thursday: Grades 1-8

Wednesday: Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten

*Correction: Due to incorrect information on the school’s website, we originally reported that the lottery would start at 8:30 a.m. The story also incorrectly stated that officials would call out the numbers of children who have been accepted; in fact they called out numbers to determine the order in which they would offer admission. The school has not said how many seats are available, so it’s unclear how many of the students will get in. (March 12, 2014)

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  • nickelndime

    AUDUBON CHARTER SCHOOL holds lottery! PLEASE!!! This is a selective-admission OPSB-authorized charter school which laughs in the face of Louisiana Charter School Law (at-risk students – Ha!). This is a stacked deck – I mean, stacked LOTTERY, folks. You think these people do not know how to do that? They make a 6-figure “living” at it.

  • Ailuri

    Just curious- how do you think it is stacked? I’ve seen this accusation posted before, but I can’t fathom how they’d be able to rig it. It’s a public lottery held in the presence of parents and the media. The numbers are assigned based on when you turn in your application (at least- as far as I can tell, my kid’s number was the same as the number he was on the list when we signed the book as we turned in his app. So kid #1 was the first application turned in, kid with #800 was the 800th application turned in, etc.)
    Do you think they leave specific numbers out of the lottery pool? Or somehow pick specific numbers on purpose? (seems hard to do with everyone watching)… Or do you think they discourage certain parents from turning in applications (we did feel like the process was a bit onerous- “go to this meeting” “go to that open house” “go to the school on this day to turn in they physical application” “make sure all the proper pages are filled out” etc… so all the hoops can definitely be a discouragement to parents who don’t have much time to go to all that stuff- but we never felt like they were actively trying to get people to not apply)
    It seems to me like every kid whose parents turned in an application have just as much chance as any other kid. The pool is just really, really big (I’m guessing about 900 kids total for the pre-K and K apps combined, based on the fact that the highest number chosen today was in the high 800s and when we turned in an app on the last day we were in the mid 800s- not much time for more than another 50-100 apps to get in before the deadline)
    I’m genuinely curious, as this whole process was something very new to us and I’ve seen other implications that there are “under the table” dealings going on with regard to getting into specific schools.
    I *could* see there being much more behind the scenes dealings with the OneApp schools- their lottery isn’t public, right? That makes me suspicious and concerned… I wish that the media and parents had access to that lottery to be able to watch it.

    For the record- I have pretty much no connections at all to Audubon Charter (don’t know anyone there outside who we met at the open house event) and our kid’s number was called today at the lottery, according to the live blog here. We kinda were expecting him NOT to get in, based on all the rumors and implications that you have to “know somebody” and the sheer number of applicants…but there’s his number on the list, matched to the paper they sent us (I triple-checked, just to make sure)…so I guess we wait for the acceptance letter in April now…

  • Jessica Williams

    Hi Ailuri,

    Fact-checking a few points —

    It’s my understanding that having your child’s number called at the lottery doesn’t guarantee you acceptance. For example, your child could be 39th on the list of applicants in the Pre-K 4 French program, but there may be only 30 spots total for that program.

    The tiered selection makes a difference too – Audubon gives preference to siblings of current Audubon students, Francophones and French nationals, and students who hail from French-immersion or French-accredited schools.

    It’s important to note: The Lens is providing this information as a public service to our readers and to Audubon’s prospective parents, but we are not in any way affiliated with Audubon. Alisa Dupre and the admissions team at Audubon will provide the final word on your child’s admission, and they can answer any questions you have about the process.


    Jessica Williams, The Lens

  • Ailuri

    Yes- I knew about the tiered system and the lottery numbers…
    My understanding was that the lottery in order was the accepted kids and then the waitlist kids (so the kid called as #2 is second on the list and the only way he/she won’t get in is if they decide to accept only 1 child for the year).

    Since there is no actual biographical data revealed, I’ll go ahead and say – he was the fifth one called on the tier 2 for the French program. I’m presuming that he’s pretty much accepted (unless fewer than 5 kids from tier 2 get in- there were only 6 tier-1 kids in the lottery who have priority, so he’s only *not* in if they have an acceptance of fewer than 11 kids total for preK 4 French… which seems very, very unlikely ) As I understood it at the Open House, they automatically move the current preK3 kids up and that takes up some of the slots for the preK4 class, but the preK 4 class is larger than the preK 3 class so there are still open spots beyond the preK 3 kids. (If I remember right, they said it was about double the number of kids when we attended the Open House)

  • hillbillie

    Ailuri – kudos to you for bringing up the Open House info. I’m really trying my best to remember stats from that, since the whole “lottery for potential students” doesn’t seem really like an “admissions lottery” at all, does it? My child now has a number dependent upon preK 4 re-enrollment… no numbers there of course. No one would even tell me how many children are in the program. Now I’m desperately searching for _any_ hard numbers, even from past years. How many kindergarten classes are even available. Two classes? Three? The whole process is maddeningly opaque.

  • Ailuri

    I found this article from September that says there are currently 107 preK students in 9 classes (this would be preK 3 and preK 4)…

    And this

    says 40 in PK3 (20 Montessouri and 20 French) and 45 PK4 French/ 25 PK4 Montessouri and Kindergarten has 50 French and 40 Montessouri…

    My memory was telling me “about 80 pk4 and 40 pk3” as totals so that would be close to what I had remembered hearing at the Open House.

    No idea if they’ll keep the numbers similar for the upcoming school year, but that’s what they’ve got currently.

    …and that was seriously some of the most difficult to find data I’ve ever had to look up in my life!

    Actually, the extreme noncommunicative nature of Audubon is really frustrating overall- it’s the only thing that makes me hesitant about sending our child there- the academics seem great and the environment seemed a place he’d be happy but the administration seems like a huge PITA. We also applied at Lycee and they are *extremely* open about their numbers. We’ll see if he gets into either or both and decide what to do then, I guess…

  • hillbillie

    I combed two hours for that data and came up empty – Nice find! I completely realize that forecasting future numbers is really anyone’s guess, but past numbers really help. It eases my frustration, anyway;) Thanks for coming up where the administration left us at the cliff!

  • nickelndime

    Is this MAGIC or what? OMG! I have tears in my eyes – from laughing. Sorry! Tier 1, Tier 2 – sounds like some pre-Katrina mumbo jumbo to me. Stacked? – Yes, it’s stacked! I stand by that! Just like it was hard to “see” that what the guy was stealing was wheelbarrows (Ha!). Janice and Alisha have been around for quite some time. They could do this in their sleep. The public is so naive – always ready to believe what those in “power” dish out (Really, can any “parent” or even the media (THE LENS) keep track of all the numbers, given the fact that crucial information always manages to be left out). This is an OPSB-authorized selective-admission charter school. Nobody – and I do mean “nobody,” is watching what Audubon, et al. are doing. Well, let’s just say that the OPSB knows what these schools are doing, but they are not “moved” by it – unless somebody gets caught. These people are stealing…the educations of public school students who need it the most. Shame on the OPSB. I could say more about the State/BESE, and the RSD, but Audubon is an OPSB school, so the criticism is contained – for now.

  • Ailuri

    I actually have no idea what you’re getting at…and still don’t understand where the supposed “stacking” is taking place. I think perhaps a less over-the-top writing style and a more straightforward style might help people who actually want to understand what is going on.
    Saying “It’s stacked!” louder doesn’t actually help me or anyone else understand what the problem/issue is- and I genuinely would like to know.
    I get that there is a lot of opaqueness to the process (the difficulty in finding exact numbers anywhere is maddening and they’ve done their best to not be forthcoming with information) and I think the entire process needs to be far more transparent than it is… but I still want to know WHAT people think they are hiding (if anything)…
    The tier 1 and tier 2 don’t seem that difficult to understand… tier 1 is siblings of current students and French nationals. They get first priority in this particular admissions scheme. In the French pre-K program there are 6 kids in this category. So the first 6 open slots go to them.
    After that, kids get admitted in the order of the lottery numbers called until the class is filled. So kid #1 from tier 2 gets in seventh, kid #2 in tier 2 gets in eighth, etc…
    The exact number of open slots is unknown- which I personally see as problematic. They should reveal that number. If they don’t know yet because they don’t know how many returning students they have, then they should release the total and an estimate of returning students.
    Perhaps this is where the “stacking” idea comes from- that the returning students are allowed in automatically? (without having to go through the lottery again) But they did have to go through the lottery their first year, so it’s not like they were granted automatic admission then.
    I guess what I am trying to determine is whether there really is an actual problem or whether it’s people with a specific grudge or conspiracy theory or something. No offence meant- I just have no idea who you are and I’m more inclined to go with actual facts when I make up my mind and not just believe Internet commentary- so I’m looking for actual data to help me make up my mind as to whether there is an actual problem or not and what, precisely, that problem is.

    From my own things I’ve learned- these are what I see as problems with the Audubon Charter school process (in specific):
    – lack of transparency when it comes to exact or even estimated numbers of available slots
    – lack of transparency with regard to student demographics and application demographics (how many kids applied to each track?)
    – few slots available for kids who didn’t start in Pre-K3 at Audubon because of automatic moving up into the next grade (although not sure if this is really a problem they can solve- it seems potentially problematic because parents who didn’t send their kids to PreK have more trouble getting in, but it’s a problem inherent in any school that offers PreK- almost all of them let those kids automatically advance…so it’s more of a problem that the state doesn’t prioritize offering/making available preK to all kids who want it than a problem of Audubon in specific. It’s sort of a problem without a local solution- needs to be handled at the state level.)
    -not enough slots overall (might be a problem they could solve- can the school expand to better meet demand? They obviously get a lot more applications than they have slots, so it seems like the logical response would be to hire more teachers and get an additional facility and open up more classes… not sure why they don’t do this)

    Things they are doing right:
    – public lottery (so parents and the media can see that it was not rigged)
    – lottery system for entry (so no one gives spots preferentially to anyone just because they are “connected” to someone in the administration- each person who turned in an application has an equal chance of getting their name pulled in the lottery)

    Am I missing anything?

  • Alan Maclachlan

    Whether it is stacked or not–and I have no idea if it is or isn’t–the system(s) by which children are admitted to public K-12 schools in Orleans Parish is undeniably complex, probably to the point of being an outright deterrent to many families.

    Who wants to play roulette with his or her child’s future? Who wants to settle for a future for their children in one of the multitude of C, D and F rated schools if your child doesn’t win the lottery and then meet the “points” criteria for admission on top of that?

    Does this bizarre creation whose playing out we are now watching serve to attract ambitious young families with children to settle in New Orleans, or does it instead encourage them to go elsewhere?

    This is a question which, eight years past Katrina, needs to be addressed in a rational, dispassionate manner.

  • Carrie

    It’s stacked in one obvious way- if you can afford to send your child to Ecole Bilingue or a Montessori preschool such as Cathedral Montessori you can get into a higher tier.

  • Ailuri

    Very good points… and definitely worthy of rational, thoughtful discussion. I guess the next question is, how do we as a community initiate these kinds of discussions with those who have the power to affect the system- and why aren’t these discussions being had already (ie- what’s the bottleneck for this kind of community conversation?)

  • Ailuri

    Thank you for this answer- that is definitely an example of how the system is stacked for kindergarten applicants! I think those kids should be put into the general pool with everyone else for kindergarten, essentially eliminating the middle tier for the kindy lottery. (I hadn’t been aware of the middle tier- my kid is applying preK and there are only the two tiers for that level so I didn’t know it was different for kindy) I understand siblings and French nationals having tier 1 preference, but at the kindy level there doesn’t need to be that kind of middle tier.
    I get requiring older kids to speak French to enter the French program at older grades- when everyone in the class speaks the language already- but in kindy there are already some kids who are entering with no French, so there’s no reason to have that preference. The Montessori curriculum seems like it could apply to any age group and can be started at any age- kids transfer into Montessori programs in older grades at other schools-, so not sure if that preference should be there at all… Is there any evidence saying that kids *can’t* adapt to a Montessori curriculum in second, third, fourth grade, etc.? (I actually have no idea- so it’s a real question, not rhetorical)

  • Alan Maclachlan

    Ailuri, the story of how New Orleans lost control of almost all of its public schools to a variety of interests, some local, some not, is a very long one. I’ll leave it to someone else to fill that in.

  • nickelndime

    AUDUBON LOTTERY: If anyone has to ask the specifics of when, where, or how admissions stacking in lotteries occurs, then “anyone” is asking specifically how theft occurs in public education, at least in New Orleans, and that is something “anybody” is not going to get in an anonymous online public comment section. Moving on, if said lottery applicant gets admitted, the W/W/H won’t matter anyway (all problems and questions will be forgotten). However, if said applicant does NOT get admitted, and said parent has problems (i.e., parent cannot objectively justify why his/her child was NOT accepted), then what are the parental options anyway? (1) Sit down, be quiet (mumbles don’t count) and just accept it; (2) Believe/accept that said child isn’t good enough for that kind of academic environment; (3) Believe/accept that said child is good enough, but was born (UNLUCKY)) and/or was not meant to attend this/that school (FATE); (4) Accept the professionals’ rationale said child is not a French national – and oh yes, I am laughing really hard on this one…both of my eyes are tearing up again; (5) Believe that Janice and Alisa, the Audubon admissions team, and the nonprofit charter board are upright and honest and wouldn’t do anything to harm any child’s admission chances (much less said child’s) and/or a child’s academic future (that’s your child others are making decisions for, Lady); (6) Believe that Kathleen Padian, Deputy Superintendent of Charter Schools, and the OPSB are upright and honest and wouldn’t do anything to harm any child’s admission chances (including but not limited to said child) and/or a child’s academic future (again, that’s your child, Lady)… etc. So, let’s move on to the Lake Forest Montessori lottery and see what motivates this OPSB-authorized selective-admission charter school, its administration, and its nonprofit board.

  • nickelndime

    In 2009, there was a salary schedule posted in The Times-Picayune for principals and assistant principals in the post-Katrina charter landscape. In the headlines, the reporter used the word, “Skyrocketing.” That was five years ago. AUDUBON’S CEO/Principal Janice Dupuy’s salary was $98,231 (#13); LAKE FOREST’S CEO/Principal Mardele Early’s salary was $96,000 (#17). Are these two ladies LUCKY or what? Is it FATE or what? Was it their EXPERIENCE and HARD WORK? Or was it something else? Am I writing over-the-top again? I cannot be the only one who sees a problem with what is going on here in New Orleans and in this state?

  • Nola Parent

    Thank you to The Lens staff for posting these numbers, and for covering the event. This is a really crucial, rubber-meets-the-road kind of process in the city, and your coverage gives me hope. It is a complicated process, and the results will be messy sometimes, but I think the administration is acting in good faith…the efforts of hundreds of parents to enroll their children seems a vote of confidence too. Good luck to all….

  • Concerned_parent

    Nickelndime you don’t appear to have a method to your madness, nor do you appear to have a vested interest (a child) in the lottery system. You are rambling about stories and details that are not associated with the topic at hand. Furthermore, I am not understanding why you elected to post the salary scale of two principals at selective admission schools and not all principals that have an admissions process. Are you implying these ladies have not earned their salaries?

  • Concerned_parent

    Nola Parent, I would like to ditto what you have posted. Admissions appears to be a process as with anything worth while in life. Everyone and every organization has rules and policies. I believe administration and the admissions committee has acted in good faith and has made this process as transparent as humanly possible. To the parents questioning the availability of seats: it is unfortunate that the school is unable to provide this data. However, as a realist the public has to understand that the current school year has not come to an end. Therefore, kids are moving in and out of the city, some kids will retain in there current grade, and others will not elect to return. With this in mind, the school would be providing inaccurate data if they publicized projected enrollment numbers.

  • nickelndime

    AUDUBON ADMISSIONS PROCESS: Concerned_Parent “believes”…that “administration and the admissions committee has acted in good faith…” and Nola Parent “thinks” that the “administration is acting in good faith…” I see at least two parents with a child in the AUDUBON (LOTTERY) Admissions Process who have “bought into” (believe/accept) the notion that this selective admission process is aboveboard (without concealment or deception), and I tell you now, that whatever the turnout is for you and your child(ren), that Janice and Alisa (sans the Admissions Committee) know who will be admitted and who will not, right now! It is March 14, 2014.

  • nickelndime

    NICKELNDIME suggests that THE LENS initiate a Request to Review Public Records of all Selective Admissions Charter Schools (not just the ones conducting lotteries) AND the traditional (non-charter) schools authorized/directly run by the OPSB during the current admissions process for 2014-15. Shine a light on all of them and see what kind of expensive legal maneuvers and subtefuge you encounter, Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools for one (Lee C. Reid of Adams and Reese LLP), although not the only one. The good news is that you will not get any flack from Caroline Roemer Shirley and the LAPCS, that’s for sure. Then everyone will have a better insight into how the admissions process is flawed and why these OPSB schools are fighting the OneApp. Publicizing the lotteries is a good start, but the public needs to be shaken up out of its blind acceptance (believers) that authority figures always (generally, usually) act in good faith. They do not.

  • Ailuri

    I think the frustration mostly lies with the fact that they aren’t giving out the numbers they DO have. Some other schools do, in fact, give out that information and make note that they don’t know how many of those slots will be going to current students moving up yet.
    They could, for example, say “We will have 75 prek4 students next year, but we don’t know how many of those slots will be taken up by returning preK3 kids. We currently have 40 preK3 kids enrolled, so the minimum number of available slots for lottery applicants will be 35 (ie: 75 minus 40.)”
    They DO know by this point how many slots total they will have- and that’s the main number we as parents of applicants would like to know. (They can’t exactly wait until after acceptance letters have gone out and decide “Y’know- this year, I think we will double the kindergarten class” or “We’ve decided to eliminate all but one class of preK”- those decisions are already made long before this point)

  • boathead12

    Well nicklendime, by your definition, the deck is stacked…OK. Shall the children of French Diplomats be forced into an english language curriculum? No, of course they should have preference. Should I NOT have an increased likelyhood of having all my children in the same school system? I fail to see how “stacking” the deck in this manner is unfair or bad for the school system. You want siblings to be able to support each other in school. You want parents to be able to avoid wasting time and money picking up children from three different schools. You want parents invested in the education. Should that attention be spread between several different school administrations? That does no one any good. The lottery in it’s current form seems fair enough, but I’m a beneficiary of that status quo, so perhaps my view is skewed.

  • boathead12

    A chart of some sort helping you to establish your odds would be helpful wouldn’t it?

    I understand the administrations take on this though. What are they to tell us?

    Here is the picture for 1st grade french. There is one slot available for certain. K kids must have 2 years french to matriculate to 1st or demonstrate proficiency, so it is likely several other spots will become available as several kids will be held back. Some kids may not return. That’s all future tense though. At this moment in time there is one slot available….that is all.

    I agree that both Lusher and Audubon need to be looking towards expansion to accommodate the numbers of applications with intent to enroll that they are getting.

  • boathead12

    You bring a good point that the inclusion of these schools and their lotteries in the OneApp wildly complicates things for parents and administrators. I wonder how many kids drawn ahead of Ailuri’s kid got into Lusher and will go there instead. Were the kids in the lottery ones who selected Audubon 1, 2, 3, 4 on their OneApp? Are kids who select 3 given the same lottery preference as those who selected 1? VERY confusing for sure.

  • Ailuri

    ….and I stand partially corrected…I guess they DID decide at this late date (2-3 weeks before acceptance letters go out) to cut back the total number of preK classes for both the Montessori and French programs… no idea what this means in terms of numbers because there were no numbers given at all before or after this decision…

    Again, this doesn’t inspire confidence in the administration (most of the other schools seem to have a handle on how many kids they will have in each grade long before this point in the game), but it isn’t necessarily a sign of bad intent (merely poor planning)

  • liveoak

    Without sharing the # of slots available, a school could potentially determine the # of slots they wish to make available *after* reviewing the applicants who were drawn (e.g., if they don’t think applicant #Y is a good match, they announce they have only X slots). I realize this is highly unlikely and wouldn’t necessarily even keep applicant Y out — as some of the others may opt to go elsewhere — but it’s a possible way for unfairness to creep into the system (on top of the unfair advantage for those with previous Montessori experience).

  • nickelndime

    AUDUBON LOTTERY: None of the original (circa 2006) charter schools governed by the OPSB participate in OneApp, and if they get their way through ongoing legal manuevers (huffing and puffing by entities such as the EastBank Collaborative of Charter Schools and attorneys with Adams and Reese LLP), they never will suffer that fate. The OPSB is very loose with its charter schools, so one should not expect them to enforce what is on the books as far as Operating Agreements. Therefore, OPSB Charter participation in the State’s OneApp should not be considered a complication that will occur anytime soon (for some, we are looking at 2021). But LIVEOAK is definitely onto something that occurs in the BACK (and not in the front of the public). The so-called fixed number of slots is definitely more flexible than what one would like to believe or what the public is told. (So, yes that’s one way that stacking occurs, and combined with attrition – great students are accepted quickly and their admission is secured far earlier than what the public is led to believe, leaving miraculous openings to occur for other good students down the line.) But, who am I to burst anyone’s bubble or other people’s confidence levels in “the system”? My interest is far more pervasive than one child or one parent, as touching as that may be – “one starfish at a time.” Amd remember what CARRIE said about what one can afford and the selection of preschools and how it affects tiers. And for the record, I absolutely support Sibling Preference, but that is the only preference. If Vietnamese and Spanish-speaking students, for example, are forced into an English curriculum, then why not the children of French Diplomats? Thi is public education. If we cannot be equitable here, then where?

  • boathead12

    Thanks nickelndime. Your obvious experience w OPSB brings to light facts and insights that would have been lost in the pre-internet era. Now WRT the French Nationals getting Tier I status, doesn’t the French government make some contribution to the budget for teacher salaries or benefits? I know those teachers all have a minimum Masters in education, and I was under the impression that in partnership with CODOFIL the French Government provided some sort of subsidy. If that is true, then it’s at least as fair as the special consideration given to Tulane faculty at Lusher. At least with the French National preference it amounts to 1 or 2 kids per year, not potentially a whole grade like at Lusher. Nice for Tulane that they get the tax exempt status and the preference at Lusher.

  • Ailuri

    I figured I would update this just for the sake of transparency…

    At #5 in the Second Tier of the lottery for Audubon PreK4 French, we are currently 1st on the waiting list.
    So- Audubon accepted four Tier 2 (general public) students for PreK4 French. (along with six tier-1 applicants, which is the tier for siblings of current students and French nationals.) A total of 10 preK4 French students were accepted (out of approximately 80 applicants for those slots.)
    Congrats to those who got in…and seriously, this school needs figure out how to expand, as the demand greatly outpaces the supply currently.

  • Folheando

    Ailuri, I really appreciated this and other of your postings. It gave food for thought and besides it, it alerted me to the fact that people are receiving their letters already (ours is actually lost in the mail and the school is closed for the spring break but what does it matter now with so few spots open?). Good luck with getting your little one into one of the schools! Thanks!