Lagniappe Academies’ request to transfer to the Orleans Parish School Board will not be considered Tuesday by state officials as originally scheduled because the Recovery School District is delaying a recommendation on the school’s charter renewal, bringing into question the school’s very existence.
As part of a routine process for charter schools, the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school’s charter is up for renewal. That’s the contract with an authorizer that lets an entity operate a school. The RSD authorized Lagniappe’s charter, allowing it to begin operations in the fall of 2010.
But Lagniappe is under a corrective-action plan monitored by the state Education Department after an October site visit revealed problems in complying with special-education laws.
The district is asking the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to wait until March before it decides whether to renew the school’s charter. That will give the district time to prepare a report elaborating on the school’s special-education issues and whether it is improving, according to documents prepared for this week’s state school board meeting.
“We were surprised by the delay and hope that this does not impact our transfer to the OPSB,” Lagniappe CEO Kendall Petri said.
A summary of the findings from three state monitors revealed the school did not have a dedicated special-education teacher and that students had not been consistently receiving special education. The findings also said the school lacks procedures to identify students who need special-education services.
Without a charter renewal, the school won’t be transferring to the Orleans Parish School Board, but most likely preparing to close its doors or be taken over by a new operator selected by the RSD. The non-profit could potentially apply for a new charter through the School Board, but it’s unclear how long any approval process could take.
The RSD’s recommended delay appears to affect the transfer timeline that has been outlined for schools wishing to return to local control. As it stands, March 1 is the deadline for the School Board to notify BESE that it accepts the school’s request to transfer. Lagniappe won’t know if its charter has been renewed until March 6.
The deputy superintendent of Orleans Parish’s charter schools did not immediately return a call for comment.
Lagniappe is one of only two charter schools to request to transfer from the RSD to the control of the School Board. Of the 36 eligible charter schools, 34 decided to remain in the Recovery School District for 2015-16.
BESE appears poised to approve the other school’s request. Friends of King, which oversees Dr. King Charter School, also has requested a transfer, and agenda materials indicate the RSD recommends that BESE approve the switch.
The state school board’s committees meet Tuesday and the full board meets Wednesday.