Friends of King Schools made history Tuesday by becoming the first Recovery School District charter school board to seek to return a campus to the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board.

The charter school board opted to leave a system built on choice, the all-charter RSD, by exercising its right to choose its authorizer. The vote to return Dr. King Charter School to the School Board was unanimous, said Orleans Parish School Board member Ira Thomas, who was in attendance. Thomas represents the district that includes King.

The transfer must still be approved by the state school board and parish school board.

The move marked a reversal of the board’s November decision to keep its transfer-eligible school with the recovery district for the 2015-16 school year.

Friends of King runs two charter schools — Dr. King Charter School and Joseph A. Craig Charter School. King was eligible to return to the auspices of local control, based on two years of school scores above the acceptable limit.

Friends of King will still control the day-to-day operations of each school and set overall policy, but general oversight will be split between the RSD for Craig and the School Board for King.

The change of heart was perhaps spurred in part by the RSD’s recent charter renewal recommendation of five years, two short of the maximum. That recommendation came after Friends of King was issued a formal notice of breach of contract due to a complaint regarding its compliance with the city’s centralized enrollment system OneApp, according to | The Times-Picayune.

The official scolding from the RSD came just weeks after the King board initially voted to stay with the state-run recovery district.

School Board member Ira Thomas was at the meeting Tuesday and said he was happy to see a school begin the transition back to Orleans Parish oversight.

“It marks the beginning of the reunification of our school district to a single system,” he said. “I’m hopeful that other schools will follow their lead and continue this process of reuniting our school district.”

Of 36 eligible charter schools this year, King is the first to be headed back. A handful of boards have yet to vote on the matter.

Thomas said he thought CEO Doris Hicks’ leadership is second to none, and that the confidence the board has in her made the unanimous vote possible.

The RSD released a statement in response to the board’s vote. It congratulated the board, King staff and families on the school’s academic improvements, but also acknowledged enrollment, which was the topic of the notice of breach.

“We expect that under the governance of the Orleans Parish School Board, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School will continue to open its doors to all students of all backgrounds and all needs.“

Friends of King has until Jan. 5 to notify the state of its decision. BESE will consider the request at its mid-January meeting.

Should OPSB accept the transfer it would occur on July 1.

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...