RSD, school and community members meet privately to discuss fate of Sarah T. Reed

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In the effort to reopen shuttered Sarah T. Reed High School in two years, Recovery School District officials met behind closed doors Monday with leaders from two charter-management organizations, Einstein Charter School and Collegiate Academies.

RSD officials told The Lens the meetings were not public. Even though representatives from six different organizations and the two schools were there, no quorum of a public body was present. The state Open Meetings Law doesn’t require meetings of administrators to be public.

The two charter networks have expressed interest in operating the high school when it reopens for 2016-17 school year.

The RSD closed Reed last year along with the last of its direct-run schools, on its way to becoming the first all-charter district in the country. This year, the building is temporarily occupied by KIPP Renaissance High School as its permanent site undergoes renovations.

But the eastern New Orleans community wants the facility to be more than just a swing space for other schools. In fact, some community representatives not directly associated with education were at the meeting to make that position known, RSD Deputy Superintendent Dana Peterson said.

RSD Deputy Chief of Staff Laura Hawkins said representatives from the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association, the Orleans Parish Education Network, Stand for Children, the Orleans Parish School Board, Village de L’est Neighborhood Association, Reed Renaissance, Collegiate Academies staff and students Einstein Charter School staff and parents.

The RSD requires that Reed serve grades 9 through 12 when it’s fully open, although a charter operator could start with fewer grades and add more each year. The school must be open to all students in the city, and it must provide transportation and participate in the city’s unified application process, OneApp.

The RSD’s timeline for the process included this description for the meeting that happened this week:

“Full Presentations: Potential operators will be invited to present their plans for the Reed facility to community and RSD representatives.”

Four groups initially submitted letters of interest in reopening the eastern New Orleans high school, but Friends of King and New Orleans College Prep dropped out according to the RSD.

College Prep CEO Ben Kleban said via email that his network is only approved for new K-8 charters and therefore could not meet the grades 9-12 requirement.

RSD officials expect to announce the decision in February.

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