No individual can hold our government accountable and public officials accountable alone. The Lens serves as that ever-present watchdog, working on our collective behalf and serving our community at all times.
In 2012 and 2014, the state ethics board charged Paulette Bruno and Doris Roché-Hicks with breaking state law because five family members worked at charter schools they run. Years later, the charges remain unresolved.
The Louisiana Board of Ethics has filed charges against Friends of King Schools CEO Doris Hicks and three relatives after finding them in violation of state law aimed to prevent nepotism. The action follows a Lens story that reported Hicks had hired six family members.
After-school tutoring and enrichment will continue at Friends of King’s two schools. State education officials renewed Friends of King’s contract with the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, which enables schools to provide those services.
Algiers Charter Schools Association staff went on 19 trips over four years, including five out of state that cost $113,000. And new figures from KIPP New Orleans Schools show that it spent $133,000 on its trip to Las Vegas. All told, The Lens has added up $316,000 in travel for three charter organizations.
About 185 of KIPP’s 440 employees in New Orleans attended a national summit for KIPP staffers in Nevada. The trip cost substantially more than the $69,400 that Friends of King spent on a staff-wide retreat in Biloxi, Miss. But Kipp’s nine schools all have money in the bank, while one of Friends of King’s two schools posted a $1 million deficit.
All of the approximately 180 employees of the two-school charter organization were invited to the Beau Rivage in August. The charter organization covered their hotel rooms and meals. A week later, CEO Doris Roché-Hicks told staff at one school that their pay would be cut 2 percent. That move saved about as much as the retreat cost.
Doris Roché-Hicks apparently didn’t sign contracts with her family members, which would clear her from one set of legal concerns about their employment. But there are discrepancies between copies and originals of the same documents, and charter officials won’t discuss why they’re different.
It will cost $30 million to bring students to and from public schools this year, compared to $18 million the year before Katrina. The increase appears to be a consequence of citywide enrollment and the shift from a centrally-run school system. A few schools are working together to negotiate busing contracts.
The head of the Friends of King charter school system has hired six relatives, including at least two whose employment appears to violate state ethics laws that ban nepotism. Chief Executive Officer Doris Roché-Hicks employs her sister, daughter, son-in-law, grandson and great niece. She also employs her son-in-law’s brother. State law prohibits the hiring of immediate family members, though not all of these relations meet the definition of “immediate family” in the law.
The background check for New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy only went back seven years and wasn’t as comprehensive as a similar service available from the state. Darrell Sims was once charged with stealing from a Terrebone school; now NOPD is investigating him for theft from the military academy.
The Friends of King board of directors has green-lighted a continuing search for grants to finance a pre-kindergarten program at Joseph A. Craig Elementary School and learning centers to supplement classroom instruction at both Craig and Martin Luther King Science and Technology Charter School. Passage of resolutions authorizing reapplication for the funding was the highlight of the directors’ monthly meeting, March 12, in the Craig library.
The board that governs Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School and Joseph Craig Elementary will be meeting today at noon at 1617 Caffin Ave. The meeting agenda was posted on the school’s website and is available here.
Dr. King Charter School will not be rejoining the Orleans Parish School District. Its governing board, Friends of King, last week decided against sending a letter of intent to leave the Recovery School District and rejoin the local school district as its improved academic performance allows.
Accusations that the Recovery School District overloaded Joseph Craig Elementary School with special-needs students was a focus of the Nov. 13 meeting of Friends of King Schools, the board responsible for Craig as well as for Martin Luther King Science and Technology Charter School.
Friends of King School met in regular session on July 25, after passing budgets for the two schools under the board’s management: Martin Luther King School of Science and Technology and Joseph Craig Elementary. Principal Doris Hicks, chief executive officer of the schools, updated the board on an overture from a group of George Washington Carver alumni interested in getting Friends of King to help them apply for a charter to run their troubled high school.
The board of directors who run Martin Luther King School of Science and Technology, as well as the Joseph Craig Elementary, approve budgets for the 2012-13 school year at their meeting July 19. Discussion began with the budget for Craig, which the Friends of King School board begins operating in the coming year.
The Friends of King School Board released its budget for the 2012-13 school year at Martin Luther King Science and Technology Charter. It also released a budget for Joseph A. Craig Elementary, which the board will begin running in the coming year. Based on an anticipated enrollment of 685 students, the school expects to receive about $7.85 million in revenue, of which about $6 million will be per-student state and local funding.