Algiers Charter school employees must reapply for their jobs next year

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Employees at two West Bank charter schools must reapply for their jobs at the end of the school year.

The new policy at Algiers Charter comes as the charter-school network is preparing to shrink — from four schools under its control to two by the end of this school year. Orleans Parish schools’ Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. did not renew the charter contracts of F-rated McDonogh 32 Charter School and William J. Fischer Academy. They will close at the end of this school year.

At its height, Algiers Charter ran nine schools and was one of the first to reopen schools after Hurricane Katrina. Now, employees at its remaining two schools — Landry-Walker High School and Martin Behrman Charter School — are unsure whether they’ll keep their jobs next year.

Algiers Charter’s two remaining schools those schools have slid academically over the past few years. In 2014, both were rated B’s by the state Department of Education. This year, Landry-Walker slid to an F and Behrman is a C.

Tammi Griffin-Major, the network’s chief of staff,  said the policy requiring employees to reapply is new this year.

“Algiers Charter is committed to academic excellence, therefore Landry-Walker and Martin Behrman employees are required to reapply for their positions for the 2019-2020 school year,” Griffin-Major said. “As we work to reinforce our commitment to academic excellence, this is the first year we have asked employees to reapply.”

Last fall, Lewis hinted that action could be taken at four schools when he halted enrollment. That included McDonogh 32 and Fischer, which moved into one campus due to declining enrollment.

Most New Orleans charter schools employ teachers on year-to-year contracts. But many send out renewal offers to current teachers in the spring without asking them to reapply. The letters often ask them to commit by a certain date.

When schools change hands between charter operators or between a charter group and the district, employees must reapply for their jobs.

That’s happening during winter break at Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy. After Lewis announced his plan to revoke Harney’s charter mid-year, Harney’s board decided to voluntarily hand over control of the school. Harney will reopen under district control on Jan. 14.

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