Superintendent Lewis Updates Public On Transition Of Network Schools
NEW ORLEANS – The following is a statement from Orleans Parish School Board Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. regarding interest in converting the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) network (direct-operated) schools to charter schools:
“Late in 2016, we promised our school communities that we would engage them on the transition of network schools and we have kept that pledge. This week, we have concluded a second series of meetings at each of the ExCEED network schools. Prior to that time, I visited each school to speak with staff and respond to their inquiries. Additionally, I have attended meetings coordinated by the school principals and parent teacher organizations to address questions from families and other community stakeholders. Next month, I expect to follow-up with these schools together with the non-profit charter school organizations who express interest in each school to help families learn more about the prospective applicants. Finally, I will conduct additional public meetings sharing the basis for recommendations that I hope to put forth.
Recently, there have been media inquiries about the ExCEED network and how the charter school application is connected to the current work ongoing in our schools. It is normal and healthy to see our strong principals seek to charter their own schools and this is nothing new for New Orleans. In fact, it is the basis of many schools in the Recovery School District as well as some of OPSB’s current high performing charter schools. Furthermore, prior to the holidays, we took the extra precaution of seeking legal advice from internal and external counsel to ensure that we do not create any conflicts of interest.
In continuation of our past practice and in compliance with Louisiana Department of Education policy, our district contracts an independent team of third-party evaluators to review each application we receive and issue an independent evaluation to determine whether the proposal is sound. Letters of Intent are due this Friday, Jan. 27, and full applications are due Friday, Feb. 24.
The Orleans Parish School Board reviews both the third-party evaluation together with my assessment of our district’s portfolio need in order to make a final determination. This allows me to make recommendations as to whether each operator is right for the school they propose to convert. As part of this process, I will weigh heavily evidence of family, staff, and community support.
Both the spirit and letter of our policies have been followed in this important step for our school system, and I am proud of the transparency we have achieved in this process.”