New Orleans charter schools add parents to boards to increase parent involvement

New Orleans charter schools are adding a parent or alumni to their boards to comply with an Orleans Parish school district policy that recently became law.

One local charter banned having parents on its governing board in 2016, after a few turbulent years with a board that included several parents.

The goal is to boost the voice of parents at independent charter schools.

“The one thing I’ve been hearing since this whole thing started is they want parents involved,” said state Sen. Wesley Bishop (D-New Orleans).

Some charter leaders say they appreciate that goal, but they question whether the parish school board should dictate who’s on the boards of independent charter schools. They wonder whether parents can see past the immediate needs of their children to make decisions about the long-term viability of the school.

“I appreciate the goal of diversifying our boards and bringing in more voices,” said Elizabeth Ostberg, the principal and executive director of The NET, an alternative high school with two campuses in New Orleans.

“I personally think that having a parent of a current student is a conflict of interest in the same way you wouldn’t have an employee on the board,” she said.

Staring down Big Brother: Citizen group asks public to help map cameras

Cameras, cameras, everywhere. Opinion columnist Tabitha Mustafa wonders why the city’s crime cameras, newly renamed “Quality and Neighborhood Safety Cameras,” are popping up in certain places, such as the Hollygrove Community Garden.

There isn’t a camera outside of the semi-defunct and predominantly white Hollygrove Market and Farm yet, she notes, there is one outside of a community space primarily utilized by Black children and elders.

A group has decided to take matters into its own hands. The Peace by Piece Program launched to track the cameras using verified, crowdsourced data.

The group aims to map cameras city-wide.

New Orleans: Ready or not?

How prepared is New Orleans for the challenges that climate change will bring in coming years? Drainage, streets and the electric grid are all vulnerable to the strain caused by what scientists say will come – heat, bigger storms and heavier rain.

WWNO and The Lens put the city’s infrastructure to the test with a special series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not? 

Tune in for the answers this week during Morning Edition and All Things Considered. More information and stories at

Recap: The Lens’ June highlights

The Lens has a lot to celebrate as we close out June, a month in which we brought you exclusive reporting on an affordable-housing-unit-turned-Airbnb, Entergy’s astroturfing campaign and faulty lead test kits that were used at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans.

We also profiled a family navigating special education in New Orleans’ decentralized system of schools. We wrote about a Central City charter school that was holding its employees’ retirement contributions for months at a time, likely violating federal guidelines. Two days later, the district asked for three years of the schools’ financial records.

Our most popular opinion columns created quite a buzz. C.W. Cannon opined on so-called “supernatives” and whether they are destroying the city they love. Former councilwoman Stacy Head called out councilmembers for giving a Subway restaurant the green light on Magazine Street.

We have more stories underway that we look forward to sharing soon. We are also excited about the New Orleans Press Club Awards coming up in two weeks.

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...