Four incumbents on Wednesday filed to seek reelection to the Orleans Parish School Board, the seven-member body that oversees New Orleans’ uniquely decentralized school district. Wednesday was the first day of the qualifying period, which ends Friday.
The elected board directly operates just one school and authorizes roughly 80 independent charter schools run by non-profit organizations. The board also oversees the NOLA Public Schools district — the administrative body that acts as a regulator for charter schools — and NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis, Jr. All seven seats are up for election in November.
Incumbents John Brown Sr., Leslie Ellison and Nolan Marshall Jr. are each seeking another four-year term. Interim board member Grisela Jackson is seeking to secure a full, elected term to her seat. Jackson was appointed to replace member Ben Kleban when he resigned in June.
Last week, in a public statement, Jackson called for the school year to begin online as COVID-19 cases continue to rise again in the city. She is a business owner who helped start a charter school and later served on the board of New Orleans College Prep. She is being challenged by Katie Baudouin who also sought the interim seat earlier this year. Baudouin is New Orleans City Council member Joe Giarusso’s land use and policy director.
Aldine Lockett, a lifetime educator, and Asya Howlette, a teacher and STEM director at Success Preparatory Academy, are both seeking the District 2 seat, currently held by board president Ethan Ashley. District 2 covers part of Gentilly and eastern New Orleans. Ashley did not file to qualify on the first day. He did not respond to a request for comment.
In District 7 — which covers parts of Mid-City, Algiers, and the Seventh Ward — Jamar Wilson, a dean at KIPP New Orleans, is challenging incumbent Marshall.
In District 3, which covers Lakeview and parts of Mid-City and Gentilly, Olin Parker was the only qualifier on Wednesday. Parker has worked for the Recovery School District and Louisiana Department of Education since 2013. His last day was today. Sarah Usdin, who currently holds the seat, did not immediately return a phone call.
Erica Martinez, David Alvarez and Carlos Zervigon are running for the District 6 seat, a district that includes parts of Uptown and Central City. Martinez leads a non-profit that serves high school students as they enter college. She also has experience in clinical psychology. Alvarez is a strategic planner whose youngest children attend Audubon Charter School. Zervigon, an artist and educator, helped found Audubon and has served on several nonprofit boards. Board member Woody Koppel, who currently holds the seat, did not immediately return a phone call.
The primary is Nov. 3 and the runoff election is Dec. 5.