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Failing Miller-McCoy Academy closing in spring; RSD seeking new operator

Embattled Miller-McCoy Academy will close at the end of the school year, the state-run Recovery School District announced late Wednesday. And wasting no time, the district immediately launched a search for a new operator for the school, which is scheduled to get a new building next year.

The RSD has issued a request for applications from organizations interested in opening a new school at Miller-McCoy’s future home, and initial letters of interest are due by Dec. 31.

It’s unclear whether many boards will meet in the next two holiday weeks to consider and vote on whether to take part in the process, or whether such board approval is even necessary.

The Orleans Parish School Board earlier this week decided to challenge in court the RSD’s ability to open such new schools.

The RSD was already in the process of finding operators for two shuttered high schools, Sarah T. Reed and John McDonogh, which prompted the lawsuit.

The all-boys Miller-McCoy school serves students in fifth through 12th grades, and it had about 300 students last year. It is housed in modular classrooms and was slated to move into the new Livingston High School next school year. But there were signs of trouble at the school this fall.

First came an F letter grade from the state. Then, a Miller-McCoy student went before the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education speaking of fights, intense patdowns at the morning security checkpoint and exposed wiring in classrooms. At that meeting, RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard told state school board members he was aware of issues at the school.

On Wednesday, the RSD announced the school would close this spring and students would receive priority placement in the city’s centralized enrollment system, called OneApp. That means a tight turnaround for parents facing a Friday deadline for the early-round of OneApp applications.

With student enrollment in the city outpacing projections, according to recent Orleans Parish School Board estimates, the city is not in a position to close schools without replacing seats.

Indeed, the RSD’s call for operators says they must absorb Miller-McCoy students into the new school.

But the School Board contends it should be the one responsible for opening new schools, not the Recovery School District.

The RSD was created as a temporary entity to turn around academically failing schools and give them back to the local district. But a 2010 state-level policy change allows significantly  improved charters to make the decision themselves.

Of 36 schools eligible to return next year, only one charter school is headed back to the School Board. Friends of King voted unanimously to return Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School to the School Board in December. That vote was a reversal of the board’s November decision to remain with the recovery district.

Thirty-four of the 36 eligible schools will stay put in the RSD, with the final board, ARISE Academy, slated to decide tonight.

Many of those schools cited the School Board’s lack of a superintendent in their decision to remain with the RSD. The School Board appears to be making progress in the search, and has invited two finalists for another interview.

And as the School Board tries to regain oversight of city schools, it also passed a resolution this fall asking the Recovery School District not to open any more schools in the city.

The RSD has ignored that, spending the last few weeks soliciting new operators for Reed and McDonogh high schools. This included meeting privately with groups interested in running Reed when it opens in 2016-17.

School Board President Nolan Marshall said the School Board should be in control of opening schools in the city, whether they’ve been closed for years or just over the summer.

Organizations interested in running a high school at Livingston must submit a letter of interest by Dec. 31 and full applications are due mid-January. The RSD plans to notify organizations of their standing mid-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

    Vera Triplett, “released” RSD employee who did not make the 92 cut, is already on site at Miller-McCoy, eating ($$$) out of the public trough at blazered at-risk students’ expense. Now, Vera – well Vera’s got her own idea of what a charter school should be. In fact, Vera won a “local” contest sponsored by the national “4.0” incubator (CEO Matt Candler – former CEO of Sarah Usdin’s New Schools for New Orleans), and it is a “noble” idea. Look it up! Well! It seems that some conniving adults got ahold of some unwitting parents, one of whom had her son get up in front of a BESE committee meeting, when it had a local meeting, and lambasted Miller-McCoy. This looks like another staged public execution because the RSD has other ideas for another new building under its control, possibly where Vera waits in the soon-to-be completed wing. And what did Brumfield gain? You find out where the kid is. I’ve done enough. 12/18/2014 10:45 PM

  • nickelndime

    OPSB needs to jump on this one too. RSD closes it – it loses the right to do as it pleases. 12/18/2014 10:57 PM

  • nickelndime

    1 in 5 children in Louisiana (20%) are born and raised in poverty and the “public” has gone nuts – like “What!!! RSD (Dobard, Peterson + 90) and OPSB charter school administrators (Hynes, Lake Forest, Audubon, Lusher, Warren Easton, Einstein ) are being paid corporate annual salaries of $183,000 – $250,000) salaries – you tell me – is this any way to run a public education school system that seeks to educate “at-risk” students!? 12/19/2014 12:08 AM

  • nickelndime

    Poverty percentages are up. 1 in 4 Louisiana-born children are raised in poverty. And Dobard and White say the (academic) achievement gap is being erased. That’s right. These two and BESE and Louisiana lawmakers are doing such a wonderful job (all the way to the Bank of Baton Rouge). Now everybody is failing. 12 /19/2014 12:16 PM

  • nickelndime

    Sarah Usdin has been abstaining lately when it comes to votes that involve the RSD. But what about the damage (conflict of interest) that Sarah has already done when she did vote (and, at times, led the voting bloc) when the RSD and NSNO (New Schools for New Orleans – which she founded) were “players” (stood to benefit themselves along with some choice CMOs)? For example, “HOW MANY TIMES has Sarah Usdin cast a vote as an OPSB member for something that involved a project, or a school, or a building that benefitted the RSD and/or the nonprofit she founded – New Schools for New Orleans? Lately, Usdin has been abstaining from votes that involve the RSD (as in the recent decision by the OPSB to sue) because of a conflict of interest. But Usdin has already entered (voted) into decisions in which she should not have voted, and it goes all the way back to the first OPSB meeting in which newly-elected members were seated. The difference? Jefferson Parish residents become vocal when something looks/is crooked. Orleans Parish residents don’t even notice it anymore. They are in either a state (no pun intended) of denial or a state of acceptance.” 12/19/2014 1:04 PM

  • nickelndime

    I agree with the OPSB president that the “…School Board should be in control of opening schools in the city, whether they’ve been closed for years or just over the summer,” but would the “Pres” like to explain (upfront and personal) why OPSB-chartered boards DO NOT have to get prior board approval before they (Einstein, Encore, Bricolage) submit letters of interest and applications to run RSD (?) schools like Reed, John McDonogh, and maybe even Miller-McCoy? Now I know that Sarah has recently abstained from voting on issues related to the RSD, but this voting bloc needs to end when it comes to protecting the jobs of people who are, quite simply, not doing their 6-figure jobs. Stanley C. Smith and Kathleen Padian – yes! – either you have a Fairy Godmother called Sarah or the planets are not in alignment – but they will be…shortly. 12/20/2014 2:28 AM

  • HalfFullClass

    5 & 10
    It seems you are the only one not sitting on your ASP.
    Instead you are watching and commenting on Orleans Parish school issues.

    I predict that shiny new building will be targeted by the multi-school charters (FirstLie, kRIPT, RePAY, Collegial Assumptions, choICE, Crooked City).
    uSdIN’s NsnO will be handing out checks and assisting writing up those big money start-up grants the charters depend upon to keep their top-heavy budgets above water.
    A select few of our young citizens will be trained to walk the lines on the floor, track the teacher at all times and snap their fingers. The students that can not conform to the NO EXCUSES model will be advised to find another school to complete their pipeline to prison process.

    Next will be the Andrew Wilson building.
    Sophie B Wright is not far behind
    Who is next in line to feed the hungry charter operators?

    Sad day for our students and more job interviews for those teachers.

  • nickelndime

    Thanks, HalfFullClass! I see that you are not sitting on your ASP either. We (my ASP and I) are on a mission. We are committed (no ! we haven’t “been committed” haha! LMAspO!) to leaving no stone unturned, no article unread, and letting no individual or entity off the hook when it comes to what is happening to “education” in this country, state, and the GNO area. Now, are you with me? I call that a YES! “Let’s get it started in here!” 12/20/2014 3:48 PM

  • nickelndime

    One mo’ thing, HalfFullClass, my ASP and I fell off da chair with the “Word Play.” Now dats funny! We gonna see if we can do dat (FirstLie…). LMAspO!

  • nickelndime

    I would like to know when RSD Deputy Superintendent Dana Peterson is convening the next Grand Jury meeting (Reed is over, but John McDonogh and Miller-McCoy remain) so I can see who goes in and who goes out because neither the public nor the media are allowed “in” and the jurors are not allowed to say what goes on in the meeting(s). 12/20/2014 4:00 PM

  • nickelndime

    It won’t work, Vera (Triplett). You didn’t make the RSD-92 cut. Leslie wants you (even named you in an op-ed piece and the “new” charter school you are “founding” – here we go again!) to succeed, but she and Paul (Pastorek) have made mistakes before, as in Miller-McCoy, Milestone, and others, but they are like two dogs with a bone. They just don’t want to let go. LMAspO ! (that’s my pet snake ASP) 12/26/2014 11:51 PM

  • nickelndime

    So, these Miller-McCoy students have the ability to play a stellar athletic game (excellent work) and the school will be closing (have its charter revoked) because the RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard and the state board of education BESE president (Chas Roemer – who said he made a personal trip to the school – yeah rite!) have decided they don’t want Miller-McCoy to “get” the new building!!! Well, this is what is called “DBA” usual in Louisiana. But Clark has no problems because its CMO (charter operator) is FirstLine Schools – and that would be Stephen Rosenthal, brother of Leslie Jacobs – the architect of educational accountability in Louisiana. And look how that turned out! 02/13/2015 11:08/11:12 PM