Teachers must re-apply for jobs to close out Harney’s school year

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Dominic Scott/The Lens

Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy.

Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy.

Dominic Scott / The Lens

Interviews started Wednesday for Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy teachers who hope to remain at the school after the Orleans Parish school district plans to take over the school in January.

The embattled charter school’s board voted to surrender its charter to the district after Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. announced he would seek to revoke the school’s operating agreement.

Either way, students can finish the school year at Harney. But dozens of staff members employed by the nonprofit that oversees Harney will lose their jobs when the charter ceases operation unless the school district decides to rehire them. There’s no guarantee that will happen. Job listings for positions at the school have been posted publicly online and give no indication that current Harney workers will be given hiring preference.

Even if it does, the new jobs working for the school district don’t appear to offer much reprieve. District job descriptions say that teaching jobs at Harney “will terminate at the end conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year.”

In November, Lewis announced he would close the charter school at the end of the school year for noncompliance with district policy and state law. A week later, he doubled down and said he would revoke its charter mid-year. Now, if the district takes direct-control of the school, it’s unclear if the elected school board will have to vote to close Harney.

Students will remain enrolled until the school closes at the end of the school year in 2019 but parents will need to find a new school for the 2019-2020 school year.

In an email this week, district spokeswoman Dominique Ellis said interviews for positions at Harney would begin Wednesday.

According to last year’s payroll records, Harney had at least 40 employees.

The district’s website lists at least 18 positions at the school, including a posting for a principal, business manager, data manager, and a dean of students. There is a single listing for “elementary teacher at Harney” though it’s likely meant to net multiple applications. It will pay an “Appropriate Teacher Salary,” according to the job description.

Ellis said the district would take control of the school in mid-January, but she did not give an exact date. So it’s unclear when the charter’s staff may be facing unemployment. Harney board president Rev. Charles Southall III did not return a request for comment.

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