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.
Dr. King Charter School
Governed by Friends of King School
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.
Charter boards overseeing 17 schools must decide by the end of the year if they want to move from the Recovery School District to the Orleans Parish School Board. But there are still reasons for schools to stay put, such as funding issues and concerns about the management and leadership of the local school system.
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 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.
From left, Martin Behrman, Arthur Ashe and KIPP Believe are three campuses that are likely to be eligible to return to the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board, above. Photo by Jessica Williams
Several more independent charter school leaders soon will find themselves facing a question that several others, including Sophie B. Wright Charter School’s principal, have been grappling with for more than a year: Should we move back under the wing of the Orleans Parish School Board?
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.
By Josh Johnston, The Lens charter school reporter |
An alumni group from the failing George Washington Carver High School has asked Friends of King Schools, the board that runs Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School, to apply for Carver’s charter, King board members learned at their May 8 monthly meeting. A Carver alumni group recently protested the state-run Recovery School District’s decision to permit Collegiate Academies, the network that runs the highly successful Sci Academy, to take over the high school. The Carver alumni group has applied twice for the charter, but both applications were rejected by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The school’s board of directors has decided to seek an alternative to the expensive state-run pension plan, the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL). Sean Bruno, a certified public accountant, and Tony Monk, of the Morgan Stanley investment firm, addressed the board at its April 10 monthly meeting to explain the difference between defined-benefit retirement plans like TRSL, and the private 403(b) plans some other charters have switched to.
School spending is in line with budget projections through the end of the year, provided grants that have been applied for come through. That was the message from the finance committee as directors of the Martin Luther King Jr. School of Science and Technology gathered for their monthly meeting, March 13.
The Friends of King School Board meeting began, after a short Christmas blessing, with the entrance of about 15 members of the high school fraternity, Mu Lambda Kappa (MLK), who described a recent trip to Denver. “We learned about the environment, ” sophomore Earl Thomas said, “and ways to make it better.
The Friends of King Schools Board of Directors reacted to uncertain news of the school’s building assignment. While Martin Luther King Charter Elementary was assigned its current location on Caffin Avenue, the Recovery School District list makes no mention of the high school, which is still housed in trailers. Present for the board’s monthly meeting were President Hilda Young, CEO/Principal Doris Hicks, Secretary Cora Charles, and board members Gail Armant, Sandra Monroe, Thelma Ruth, and George Rabb. The Nov.