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McDonogh High officials focus on transition as school prepares to shut down

John McDonogh Senior High School officials met with members of the school’s charter management board — Future Is Now: New Orleans — for one of the last times Tuesday as they prepare to close the school at the end of the current school year.

With only three members present, the board failed to muster a quorum, so no votes were taken. And no members of the public turned out ask questions.

Instead, principals Marvin Thompson and Angela Kinlaw gave updates about efforts to prepare  students and staff for the upcoming closure of a school long known for violence and low academic performance.

Thompson focused on the senior class. So far only five members fall short of graduation requirements, he said.

The overall mission is to make sure students have accurate records moving forward to other schools, to college or jobs, he added.

When officials found out the school was being closed, Thompson said, there were already counselors in place, sent by the Recovery School District to help with the One-App process. The counselors are now at work “rectifying” records of students who have migrated from school to school before ending up at John McDonogh.

“The goal is to make sure all records and transcripts … are complete and accurate and up-to-date as possible,” Thompson said. “That’s our responsibility.”

He added that 99 percent of freshmen and 85 to 90 percent of sophomores and juniors had submitted OneApp paperwork for placement next year in another school.

Thompson said he’s auditing all student records to determine who might need additional course credits to be promoted to the next grade. Officials are setting up a summer school, Thompson added. He said he favors using online Apex courses and hiring teachers to monitor the students who take them.

Thompson said the nonprofit New Schools for New Orleans has been giving presentations to staff members and helping them transition to other schools.

“Many have secured positions for next year, or initiated discussions leading up to it,” he said.

Since staff found out the school was being closed, so far just one staffer, a social worker, has left. But unfortunately John McDonogh’s Apex teacher is also bailing out, a huge loss, Thompson said. He said he’s trying to hire a replacement for the last few weeks of the school year and for summer school.

“There is a strong commitment from our team to help our kids until the very last day,” Kinlaw, the ninth-grade principal, said.

The last day of school is May 23, and summer school is tentatively scheduled for June, officials said.

Board members Steve Barr, John Hope and Charles Fenet were present for the meeting, which lasted less than 30 minutes. Another board meeting is scheduled in June.

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About Della Hasselle

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports environmental and criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Hasselle lived in New York for 10 years. While up north, she produced and anchored news segments, wrote feature stories and reported breaking news for, a hyperlocal news site. Before that, she worked at the New York Daily News. She obtained her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She can be reached at (917) 304-6121.

  • nickelndime

    JOHN MCDONOGH: Barr (formerly of Green Dot and some questionable expenditures @ $50,000 – which he paid back) flew into New Orleans via New York promising classroom teachers $70,000+ annual salaries, courtesy of a corrupt LA/State system d/b/a the RSD, which allowed him to start up a financial enterprize (i.e., a public school) with public money in the millions. Now, Steve is all gone, but they are still here. Seems to me that Steve might have thought that people in New Orleans are dumb, but what he really underestimated was, not their intelligence, but their political savvy and corruption. Bye, Steve. Nice doing business with you, Louisiana style.