From 2019, John F. Kennedy High School at Lake Area on Paris Avenue. Credit: Charles Maldonado / The Lens

The Louisiana Department of Education is going to review John F. Kennedy High School’s policies and practices regarding “credit attainment and graduate completion records” amid investigations into alleged grade-fixing at the charter school.

That’s according to a letter Assistant State Superintendent Kunjan Narechania sent to the Gentilly high school charter network’s board president Raphael Gang on Friday.

“In order to assist in the [network’s] review, and in order to validate its findings, the Louisiana Department of Education will conduct a separate review of the policies and practices around credit attainment and graduate completion records at John F. Kennedy High School (JFK),” she wrote.

Behind The Lens episode 34: ‘That water would have to go somewhere’

This week on Behind The Lens:

Allegations of grade inflation at the John F Kennedy high school have left students in limbo — unsure if they’ve officially graduated. Marta Jewson has the story.

The Army Corps of Engineers has delayed the opening of the Morganza Spillway, due to a shift in the river forecast. Opening the Morganza — with its implications on private farmland in Louisiana — isn’t a decision the Corps takes lightly. We talk to Ricky Boyett, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District, about the process.

While the Morganza is making local headlines this week, the Bonnet Carre spillway is making headlines in Mississippi. Perhaps out of sight and out of mind for many New Orleanians, the spillway is having an impact in the Gulf. We talk to Alex Kolker, professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Tulane University.

Former dump site eyed for school athletic field is under state environmental review

The Orleans Parish school district wants to swap a 19th-century Uptown school for land atop the 19th-century Silver City Dump to convert to athletic fields — but the district doesn’t know the extent of soil remediation that has occurred at the former landfill.

The land that the school district wants is on Earhart Boulevard adjacent to Booker T. Washington High School, which is being rebuilt. Owned by the Housing Authority of New Orleans, it’s on the site of the former B.W. Cooper public housing complex, which was built in the late 1930s on the Silver City site.

HANO, meanwhile, is interested in the 140-year-old McDonogh 7 school building on Milan Street as a potential mixed-income housing site.

The swap has been in the works for some time. And last week, a school district official announced that the plan is moving ahead. But the state is still reviewing the steps that HANO took to remediate the soil — removing contaminants like lead, arsenic and mercury — on the former toxic dumping ground. Contractors for HANO submitted a six-volume, 4,000-plus-page report to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality on May 1.

Kennedy High School seniors await transcripts as charter board investigates ‘malfeasance’

Ten days after their graduation ceremony, anxious John F. Kennedy High School seniors — still waiting for their high school transcripts — showed up to their charter network’s board meeting Tuesday, hoping for answers amid an investigation into grade inflation at the Gentilly high school. Several students said they need the transcripts as proof of graduation before enrolling in college or finalizing financial aid.

Board President Raphael Gang said he wasn’t aware of the problem with the transcripts. But late in the meeting, he said there may be “implications” for some seniors as a result of the grade-fixing investigation.

Senior Ta’Janique Alphonse, clad in Kennedy blue and gold, waited in the hallway for an hour and a half with at least 25 other alumni, parents and students as the board discussed the investigation behind the library’s doors guarded by armed security guards.

Alphonse wants to attend Xavier University this fall. Her mother, LaToya Banks, said they are waiting for her transcript.

“I’m very upset,” she said. “I think this is very unprofessional.”

Opinion: Less to cringe about: ‘Bolden’ updates Hollywood’s evolving riff on jazz and race

Opinion columnist C.W. Cannon:

“In the American imagination, the myth of New Orleans serves as a repository of fears and desires America has about itself, especially concerning race, sexuality, and the possibilities and dangers of the aesthetic life.

“The recently released “Bolden,” written and directed by Daniel Pritzker, is an instructive expression of that urge to mythologize New Orleans. It’s easy to find fault with the film, but at least it dares to dream, which is to say it dares to probe deep, uncomfortable psychic terrain rich in symbolic imagery.”

Charles Maldonado

Charles Maldonado is the editor of The Lens. He previously worked as The Lens' government accountability reporter, covering local politics and criminal justice. Prior to joining The Lens, he worked for...