All New Orleans Public Schools To Be United Under Local School Board Oversight For The First Time In Over A Decade
NEW ORLEANS — On Sunday, July 1, all New Orleans public schools will be under the oversight of the locally-elected Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). This change follows years of state oversight through the Recovery School District (RSD) which was formed and took control of Orleans Parish public schools following Hurricane Katrina. Prior to this transition, the OPSB oversaw 41 schools. Now, following unification, the OPSB will oversee more than 75 schools across Orleans Parish.
“Where there is unity, there is strength. Because of our preparation for unification over the past two years, we are stronger as a district,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “We are dedicated to setting high standards that will provide both accountability and support for Orleans Parish schools. Families can count on us to hold schools accountable for all policies including transportation, enrollment and special education, as we work together to advance all schools in the district.”
“Unification is a major milestone for the New Orleans community and we at the school board are ready,” said OPSB President John A. Brown, Sr. “Now, the district will be the key government institution with an elected board that will serve as an honest steward of public money, overseeing a unified system of schools.”
Authored by State Senator Karen Carter Peterson in 2016, Senate Bill 432 (now Act No. 91) became law and gave the OPSB oversight over all New Orleans public schools. Under the unification, the OPSB remains committed to keeping school choice, ensuring equity for all students, providing autonomy for public schools and authorizing and holding schools accountable.
“I am very excited about the return of schools to local oversight,” said State Senator Karen Carter Peterson. “I am confident in the Orleans Parish School Board and the administration, under the leadership of Superintendent Lewis. I know they are working hard every day to provide our children and families with an equitable and innovative system. I thank my fellow legislators in the New Orleans delegation for supporting this important cause and I know that we too will do everything in our power to ensure that all students are able to attend quality schools.”
Unification establishes the OPSB as the primary governing authorizer for public education in Orleans Parish. This role allows the Superintendent to recommend and implement charter approvals, extensions, renewals, closures, monitoring and intervention. The Superintendent and administration will work together to ensure families have access to a diverse set of school options through a clear and fair process.
“We are moving forward with the energy and urgency needed to give children in Orleans Parish the education they deserve,” said OPSB Vice President Leslie Ellison. “Unifying our school district will allow us to progress as a parish with a focused purpose.”
The district, which is governed by a locally-elected board, oversees a system of schools that are operated by the OPSB, and non-profit, public charter schools. These schools are designed to offer a variety of options to students.
“The return to local oversight of public schools is the right approach for the New Orleans community,” said Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise, CEO of KIPP New Orleans Schools. “Our educators are empowered to respond to students’ needs, and all schools are held to the high standards that students deserve. We look forward to deepening our partnership with the OPSB as we work together to help our students lead choice-filled lives.”
Superintendent Lewis stated because of the relentless work of district administration, the transition will feel seamless for students and families.
“As a Unification Advisory Committee member, I am looking forward to all schools working under one unified system to ensure that all students are successful,” said Kelly Batiste, CEO of Fannie C. Williams Charter School.
After July 1, the Orleans Parish School Board will oversee over 78 public schools, including 75 charter schools, two direct-run schools and a school with two educational programs for students in secure care facilities.