Appeals Court says Type 2 charter schools are not public schools, jeopardizing their funding
In 2015, the Iberville School Board and the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) sued the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the state, arguing it was unconstitutional to include Type 2 charters – schools authorized by BESE – inside the MFP. A District Court judge ruled in favor of the charter schools, but the plaintiffs appealed.
Yesterday, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The court’s majority opinion stated that because these schools are not under the jurisdiction of a local school board, they are not public schools and cannot receive MFP funds. The dissenting opinion argued that nowhere in the state’s constitution or statutes does it say only schools authorized by local school districts are public schools.
This ruling, if left intact, could have a devastating impact on a number of area schools, although it’s unclear if it would affect all Type 2 charters and state-authorized schools, or just charter schools authorized after July 1, 2008.
The schools in New Orleans that could be impacted are: NOCCA, New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy, International High School, International School of Louisiana, Lysee Francais, and Noble Minds Institute (opening 2017). Regionally, Belle Chasse Academy, Jefferson Chamber Foundation Academy and Athlos Academies (opening in 2017) could also be impacted.
- The 1st Circuit Court has remanded the case back to the trial court for an injunction hearing to halt funding. The defendants will argue for a stay of action, pending a decision from the state Supreme Court, because withholding money would cause these schools irreparable harm.
- The case will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
- Should the Supreme Court rule that these schools cannot get MFP funding, they could be funded out of the state general fund (like vouchers), or New Orleans based schools could apply to become Type 1 charter schools under the Orleans Parish School Board. The major difference in being a locally authorized charter versus a state authorized charter is that Type 2s can enroll students from any parish, whereas a Type 1 can only enroll students from its own parish.