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

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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About 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 to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.

  • nickelndime

    Kleban lies – but you must admit he does it rather nicely. Einstein CEO Toranto says that RTA bus passes will be distributed weekly to Reed students. Does that meet RSD requirements for “transportation”? Toranto openly admits she doesn’t want those yellow “school” buses at the Michoud campus, either for the extension campus (which was the ICS takeover) or the high school. There are no yellow buses at the original RSD-leased building at Cannes Street. Toranto says she has MQVN (church) backing and (Michoud community) – VAYLA – NO, VIET… backing. NOCP and FOK rescinded their letters/applications, but the RSD continues to operate underhandedly and away from the media. It “seeds” taleover processes. The Einstein ICS takeover is a prime example. Toranto is already counting the NSNO-RSD grant money, with increased salaries for non-teaching personnel and more administrators. If anybody gave Toranto a hard time yesterday in the closed-door meeting, it was for “show.” If any heat comes from the OPSB, Einstein deserves to be clobbered, since it has not been acting aboveboard for quite some time now and it can be traced back to Pastorek and VIET’s Cyndi Nguyen and VAYLA – NO (the community). The MQVN “priest” got them to do his dirty work. They still lost after 5 years, and the “community” wants that building. Einstein’s CEO can make sure that happens. Marcovitz cannot provide that assurance. 12/09/2014 3:03 PM

  • nickelndime

    Kleban says his network (NOCP) is approved for K-8 charters. Therefore, he withdrew his application to run Reed High School. Ben Kleban didn’t know this before he wrote his letter of interest addressed to the Michoud “community”? Einstein has the same dilemma (K-8 charter), but it isn’t withdrawing anything. So, what’s the difference? Why did Kleban really pull out of the running? And how can Einstein (amend its charter san the amendment process) to run a high school without prior approval from the OPSB. OPSB has a hands-off policy when it comes to “handling” its charters, but this borders on total negligence by both parties (Einstein CMO and the OPSB) 12/09/2014 10:24 PM

  • nickelndime

    Does Dana Peterson, RSD Deputy Superintendent, think he is running a Grand Jury over at Reed? And you tell me why the “operator” presentations were “closed” to the public AND the media? Take off the gloves. You know in your soul (if that’s in your belief system) this wasn’t right! Yeah, it’s hard. So what! 12/17/2014 12:16 AM

  • nickelndime

    “Separate but equal is inherently unequal, ” watch me now, “HalfClassFull,” I am on a MISSION, here goes: “Millionaires and the politically-connected sit on nonprofit charter boards in Orleans Parish. Their CMOs (charter management organizations) are further rewarded by the awarding of more federal “grants” that are co-administered by the State-Board of Education (BESE) and New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) with its DUNS#. And as if this were not enough, OPSB-authorized charter schools use “selective-admissions” criteria to determine which public school students should be allowed to attend the public schools in New Orleans. This is also a State problem because even BESE-authorized public charter schools are allowed to use discreet criteria to screen enrollment (language immersion, pre-military, talent, etc.). Louisiana is corrupt – no doubt, but do not be misled into thinking that this kind of discrimination is limited to the “states.” This country (WE THE PEOPLE) has/have been sold out by corrupt politicians who play on emotionalism to create the kinds of tensions among and between people that get them elected and re-elected. They are dangerous and they are leading this country into complete disintegration – and ripe for a takeover by outside forces – who do not share the American vision that ‘…all men are created equal.’ ” 12/23/2014 10:19/11:23 PM

  • HalfFullClass

    OK Fi-teen Cent keep that mission in focus.
    My spouse tells me that many of our friends sit on several different charter boards and they are honest, community-focused folks. Not allowed to immediately bash the charters without first stating that there are a few operators doing the right thing for their learners and teachers. Problem is those few are not the operators lining up to expand their network and spread their overhead across multiple schools.
    Doing a HalfFast job of being polite.
    The LA Dept of Education is on its own mission to expand charters. No more schools left to convert to charter in Orleans so they must keep our RSD fiend Patrick Doubard busy monitoring failing charter schools. He stated he is aware of problems but it seems it is easier to let the Miller-McCoys & A H Wilsons fail and then hand the keys of new and renovated buildings to the big operators.
    These “2 Big 2 Fail” operators now seem to be the tail wagging the dogs at RDS, BESE and LADOE.
    Our students, our teachers, our (charter board member) citizens, and our tax dollars are being used to further the financial and political goals of a few.

  • nickelndime

    Yeah, you are on pernt, too, HalfFullClass (we are all right, but there is too much wrong), and that is why it is so important that a few well-heeled politically-connected (and yes, millionaire businessmen and women) do not have all the power on charter boards. It is an illusion that there is equal access to public schools and charter boards. Many of these (non-profit) charter boards try to run these charter schools from a multi-dollar business perspective only, but part of the problem is that they do not know or understand the academics, and instead rely on a few “administrators” (who are being overpaid – $12,500 – $ 20,000 per month salary range) who will tell them and do anything to keep that money flowing. In effect, many CEOs, etc. wield an enormous amount of power such that professional educators (teachers) have become freelance, tiptoeing employees. CEOs protect charter boards from the public (including parents) and staff. No one is actually watching or monitoring these boards, and public attendance (even faculty and staff stay away) is sparse, if any at all. Keep writing. I am on a mission, and it’s a solo flight, but I like to know there are others out there. Good work! 12/30/2014 1:03 PM

  • nickelndime

    Dobard and “flim-flam man” Dana Peterson are looking for a new charter operator for Wilson – let’s see, there is Reed, John McDonogh, and Miller-McCoy so far. How transparent will that be? Peterson wouldn’t even let the media and the public in on the Reed presentations (Marcovitz vs. Toranto). Peterson said it wouldn’t be fair because the two (CMOs) hadn’t been told their presentations would be open to the public. That’s Peterson’s fault. What an excuse! What was it that Peterson and the RSD did not want the public to see? That it was a done-deal (that the CMO had already been determined). The RSD, BESE, and the State should have already been sued. Hell, I think that if some oversight agencies were actually doing their jobs, some of these individuals would have already been indicted. 01/04/2015 12:32 AM

  • nickelndime

    The only one who I would say has an axe to grind in this “deal” (because that’s what they were – “deals”) is Collegiate Academies’ Ben Marcovitz, who in my opinion, is the stronger of the two contenders to open Reed. It is also my opinion, and ASP (that’s my pet snake ASP) concurs, that this is why Dana Peterson, the “flim-flam man,” kept the public and the media out of the presentations by Toranto (Einstein) and Marcovitz. It was conducted like a gaddam Grand Jury! The other point is that there is a CMO (Einstein) under OPSB, whose participation in the whole process, runs counter to the court challenge by the OPSB over school closures by the RSD and which entity (OPSB vs. RSD) should get control. Also, in the OPSB’s allowing Einstein to pursue Reed, I believe that the OPSB has lost (set the stage) the real deal (John McDonogh). Having said that, ASP and I are going to keep our plans for what happens next, “close to the vest,” and in ASP’s case, this is a very snug, yet very stylish, vest. LMAspO! 01/13/2015 8:00 PM

  • nickelndime

    So, how does that work exactly with Reed? The CMO Einstein operates Einstein Charter (two campuses). The Intercultural Charter School (ICS) was dissolved in the takeover, so it is not like Einstein was running an RSD school. But now the Einstein CMO will be running an RSD-authorized school, which Reed is. It is not like the OPSB actually had Reed returned because Reed is still an RSD school. Reed will keep its name. Not to worry, Sarah Towles! This is actually more complex than it appears on the surface. Then, there are the immigrants. Wait! ASP (that’s my pet snake ASP) fell off the chair and he is guffawing and you know how he can’t catch his breath when he starts guffawing. Listen to him in the background – GUFFAW GUFFAW GUFFAW! This is serious. 01/13/2015 11:32 PM

  • nickelndime

    The vietnamese in eastern new orleans could give lessons to the rest of us poor smucks on how to get government money, including on how to work for NASA and “flip” houses with FHA financing. Nonprofits galore – VIET, VAYLA – NO, MQVN (the church too) – CDC. Work with the State – 21st Century federal-state grant money (Hello BESE approved). LDOE and RSD get community input (Village de L’est Homeowners Association, etc.) on what schools should get “community – Michoud” okay to open. Open a charter school (OPSB- authorized) in 2015 (this year) in an Archdiocese facility, formerly St. Brigid, leased to VIET for $1.00 !!! It gets worse – not better. Then, there are Tulane employment issues. 01/30/2015 12:48 AM