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Live blog: State education board considers OPSB request to take over John Mac

Following a series of complaints from community members about how the charter school has been run, a state board of education committee will consider a proposal Wednesday to move John McDonogh Senior High School from the state Recovery School District to local control.

Last week, the Orleans Parish School Board passed a resolution asking the state to let it take over the school building, which was closed this summer for renovations. The resolution states that OPSB oversees 20 schools but has only 15 school buildings.

The matter is slated to go before a committee of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at 6 p.m. today. The Lens will live-blog the meeting below.

At a BESE committee meeting in June, Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard indicated that his district intends to retain control over the facility when it reopens in the 2016-17 school year.

BESE board member Kira Orange Jones has objected to moving the school to the OPSB, pointing out that the district still lacks a permanent superintendent.

“This is a district that’s still in a lot of instability currently and has a long way to go,” Jones said.

But several former school officials and Treme community activists have criticized how the Recovery School District, and the former charter operator Future Is Now: New Orleans, ran the school before it closed.

Frank Buckley, a teacher and founder of a community group called C6 — Conscious Concerned Citizens Controlling Community Changes — is one of those activists. He has campaigned for more than a year to return the school to OPSB, which would run it as a traditional school rather than a charter.

A similar petition created this summer by educator Shawon Jackson-Bernard has received more than 500 signatures so far.

“We are representing a lot of voices,” Bernard said during a recent community meeting.

The resolution will be considered as part of a larger agenda item regarding an update of the 2011 School Facilities Recovery Plan.

Live blog, 6 p.m. Wednesday

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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.

  • Elizabeth K. Jeffers

    Mrs. Carolyn Hill is correct that the lines the parents had to wait in were unacceptable. Apparently, the RSD views its tax paying parents in New Orleans in the same that way President George Bush viewed “refugees” during Hurricane Katrina. The lines are a flashback to Red Cross lines and FEMA lines. Would the RSD have put parents in South Baton Rouge or Metarie in a similar situation?

  • Elizabeth K. Jeffers

    Hi Della, can you tell us what Mrs. Loulla Givens said? Mrs. Givens was our BESE representative for a long time. Thanks

  • nickelndime

    What OPSB representatives are present?

  • Della Hasselle

    I saw Nolan Marshall earlier, but no OPSB reps are at the table at the moment.

  • nickelndime

    Garvey only has to travel to Metairie to go home. Everybody else on BESE might need to get a room. And Gawd only knows where Kira Orange Jones lives! Does she know?

  • nickelndime

    Where’s Chas Roemer? Is he afraid of danger?

  • nickelndime

    Mr. Smith is correct. Charter school boards are appointed, not elected (although elections do not necessarily eliminate corruption – don’t we know that!?), and they are corrupt. They bring in friends and associates, generally have little or no idea about academics and school finance, and listen (and believe) what overpaid CEOs and CFOs tell them. We have to put up with the likes of Mickey Landry and charter networks like Choice who are all too eager to squander public money on lawsuits (even though Sarah Usdin’s brother-in-law’s law firm, Barrasso, Usdin et al.) “says” it’s doing pro bono work to sue the governor.

  • Elizabeth K. Jeffers

    BESE makes the decision on the proposal to return John McDonogh to OPSB. Patrick Dobard does not make this decision.

  • Elizabeth K. Jeffers

    Dela, Can you please provide us information on Attorney Willie Zanders 9 reasons to return John McDonogh to OPSB? He might have a packet. Thanks

  • Elizabeth K. Jeffers

    Has Garvey ever stepped foot in John McDonogh or any RSD school? How many parents with children in the RSD has he spoken with? Instead of asking people to waive their request to speak, if he cared about the democratic process, he would propose that BESE meet in New Orleans on a regular basis.

  • Elizabeth K. Jeffers

    Dela, thanks for your diligent reporting tonight.

  • nickelndime

    VP Garvey was there because Pres. Roemer is afraid to come to New Orleans when a crowd (at least 20) gathers!

  • nickelndime

    Ditto, Della. Nice work! And maybe Mickey should get that pro bono law firm, Barrasso, Usdin et al., and file suit against the RSD, since he is already on a roll with the lawsuit against Jindal, and he is so disgruntled.

  • HalfFullClass

    Patrick Dubard brings absolutely nothing of value to any discussion. One example is the Baton Rouge Dalton Elementary/FUSE charter fiasco. Mr. Dubard waited until Dalton was the only school FUSE would be operating before he decided to reassign the charter.

    Quote from July 16, 2014

    “Initially, the RSD was sticking by FUSE, but Superintendent Patrick Dobard said the final straw came Friday, when FUSE was fired by its own flagship group of schools in Connecticut, JumokAcademy. By that point, Dalton was the only school FUSE had left, and Dobard said there were “just too many unknowns about that organization going forward.”

    “Since we still have some runway before school starts, it’s better to make this change now rather than (risk) something unforeseen or something else happening in the future,” Dobard said.”

    WTF! What unforeseen “else” would it take to admit a big mistake. The “runway” analogy just confirms that RSD is remodeling/rebuilding the educational airplane in mid-flight. Our students are just expendable cargo. This man has no clue.

  • nickelndime

    Yeah, U rite, HalfFullClass about Patrick Dobard. A holdover from the Paul Pastorek administration, Patrick was of no consequential value then, and well, let’s just say that he is a pleasant looking fellow, but that’s about it. It did take a brick building to fall before Dobard cut FUSE loose. Patrick wouldn’t know “the last straw” if the whole damn camel fell on him! Ha! And as far as the John Mac fiasco, I think that “legal” will tell BESE it doesn’t have the authority to return the school to the OPSB, which BTW, becomes more and more useless with each passing day. Sarah Usdin and her voting block of 4 (Marshall, II, Bloom, Koppel, and yes, Ellison has joined them) has effectively put a hold on any forward movement other than what actually benefits the State/RSD/BESE – and well, that is where her nonprofit (NSNO) gets its bread and butter – in her absence, while she sits on the OPSB and wrecks it!

  • nickelndime

    John Mac: The resolution states that OPSB oversees 20 schools but has only 15 school buildings. Isn’t this the same kind of reasoning (or lack thereof) that got OPSB into the predicament it is in right now? And who, in gawd’s name, keeps telling Kathleen Padian, Deputy Superintendent of Charter Schools, to keep trying to open new charter schools (which have no buildings because the RSD has the other schools and their buildings)? If the OPSB had any sense at all, which it does not, or so it appears, it would focus on luring its eligible schools back in the buildings these schools occupy. Then, the number of schools that the OPSB oversees would be equal to the number of school buildings! Let’s see if the OPSB and its central office staff understand this: Number of Schools = Number of School Buildings I certainly would not want to go to the store with this group!