Orleans Parish School Board narrows superintendent search to two finalists

The Orleans Parish School Board will invite two superintendent candidates back for another round of interviews as it seeks to find a permanent leader and dispel the belief that it is unstable.

“We have two great candidates,” Board President Nolan Marshall said at a meeting Tuesday night. “I’m sure very soon we will have a superintendent.”

The board also voted 6-0 to sue the Recovery School District over its efforts to open new charter schools in New Orleans. Board member Sarah Usdin abstained.

Both issues were discussed in an hourlong executive session.

The School Board interviewed three superintendent candidates last week and quickly invited them back for second interviews this week.

Candidates Debbra Lindo and Katrise Perera completed the second round Monday, and the board interviewed Henderson Lewis before Tuesday night’s meeting.

Lindo and Lewis will come back for another interview and a community presentation.

Lindo was most recently superintendent for the Emery Unified School District in California before she announced her retirement last fall.

Lewis is the superintendent of the East Feliciana Parish School District and a member of the St. Bernard Parish School Board. He has also held leadership positions in the Algiers Charter Schools Association.

The Orleans Parish superintendent position has been vacant for about two and a half years. Charter school leaders have cited the lack of a permanent leader at the parish school board as a reason not to move their schools out of the Recovery School District. Only one RSD charter school board, Friends of King, has voted to return a school to Orleans Parish so far.

With the holidays approaching, the next round of interviews probably won’t occur until January, after the deadline for charter schools to decide if they’ll rejoin the parish system.

The School Board has fought the RSD’s continued involvement in New Orleans schools. The recovery district was created to turn around failing schools around the state; it took over most schools in the city after Hurricane Katrina.

The Orleans Parish School Board passed a resolution this fall contending that the RSD cannot open any new schools in the city. The RSD, meanwhile, is seeking operators to reopen two shuttered high schools: John McDonogh and Sarah T. Reed.

Tuesday night, Marshall questioned whether the RSD has the right to hold on to buildings after shutting down schools, as it has done at both McDonogh and Reed.

The RSD issued a statement Tuesday night emphasizing that any organization — including the parish board — could apply to run those schools. OPSB has submitted a letter of interest to run John McDonogh.

When the recovery district took over the schools in the city, it also took control of the buildings — even though the School Board still owns the buildings.

“The law empowers the RSD to determine the education plan in buildings it governs,” the RSD said in the statement.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the parish school board approved its general counsel’s recommendation to settle a landmark special education lawsuit that accused the district of failing to provide proper services for students with disabilities.

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  • nickelndime

    Suing is better than asking for Buddy’s Opinion. I mean, Buddy thinks that the RSD controls BESE. Geeze Louise! 12/17/2014 12:23 AM