Court Rules Schools Don’t Have to Return

By refusing to hear further appeal, the Louisiana Supreme Court has put an end to OPSB’s lawsuit against the state, which argued schools should be returned automatically to local control after five years if they are no longer failing.

In 2010, BESE decided each charter board had the right to decide whether it wanted to leave the RSD and return to local control. (So far, none has done so.) OPSB argued that keeping schools indefinitely exceeded the state’s constitutional authority, but the board lost its case in district court and again on appeal.

Read more in this article from the Times-Picayune.


New Orleans Expulsion Rate Below State Average

The Recovery School District (RSD) and the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) announced the results of the first year of the new expulsion policy for public schools in Orleans Parish.

  • There were 272 expulsions in the 2012-13 school year, for an expulsion rate of .57%
  • In comparison, the state had an expulsion rate of .7%
  • New Orleans’ expulsion rate is 20% below the state

Not only is New Orleans leading the state in academic gains, we are doing so while expelling fewer students than the state average.

What did New Orleans do differently in the 2012-13 school year?

  • Common expulsion process and definition: Charter and traditional school leaders across the RSD, OPSB, and Type 2 charter schools worked together to establish a joint policy and coordinate a centralized process for student expulsions.

The 2012-13 school year was the inaugural year, with 90 of the 91 public schools in New Orleans participating. These schools agreed that all expulsion hearings would be administered by the RSD’s Student Hearing Office and agreed to limit the reasons a student could be expelled. Read More »

In the News: June 16, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

  • Ira Thomas: The Saga Continues
  • Louisiana Headlines
  • Poor Voucher Performance
  • RSD in the News
  • National Education Stories
  • OPSB Updates
  • From the RSD
  • Shout Out

Ira Thomas: The Saga Continues 

Orleans Parish School Board president’s SUNO job description not valid, university says
Times-Picayune – June 7, 2013
OPSB President Ira Thomas could be violating state law by serving on the Orleans Parish School Board while also working as Police Chief for Southern University at New Orleans (a state entity). The question is whether the law’s educational exemption applies. It allows dual office holding if the person “is employed in a professional educational capacity.” Read More »

In the News – June 2, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

  • Legislative and Legal Updates
  • Other Louisiana News
  • Common Core Updates
  • National Headlines
  • Local Stories

Legislative and Legal Updates 

The Louisiana Supreme Court vacated the district court ruling that Act 1 (teacher evaluation and tenure) was a dual-object bill. Essentially, the justices want the district court judge to reconsider his ruling on Act 1 based on the fact that the Supreme Court recently ruled Act 2 (school choice) was a single object.

Louisiana’s legislative session ends this Thursday (June 6th). Here’s what’s happening on the K-12 Education front:

Act 2: Financial Implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling that vouchers and Course Choice could not be funded through the MFP and that the 2012-13 MFP resolution was not legally adopted.

Read More »

What Does N.O. Think About Education Reforms

There has been much discussion about how folks really view education reforms in New Orleans. Last week, Tulane’s Cowen Institute released a 2013 public opinion poll providing data that replaces pure speculation with poll results on how voters feel about key issues.

Key Findings

Voters agreed more than they disagreed, reflecting consensus on some key points:

  • Support for school choice for families, with only 21% wanting a return to neighborhood schools;
  • Replacing operators of low-performing schools with charter operators who have demonstrated success (65%);
  • The need for the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) to make structural and operational changes before schools are returned (65%), with a strong preference (41%) for a local school board with a mix of elected and appointed members; only 16% of voters believe OPSB as currently structured should have oversight of all charter schools.
  • While black and white voters disagreed on when to return schools, the majority (55%) feel return should be in the more distant future (3-5 years) or never.

Read More »

News Alert: Is Ira Thomas Breaking State Law?

OPSB President Ira Thomas could be violating state law by holding a seat on the Orleans Parish School Board while also working for the state.

Thomas has served on the Orleans Parish School Board for the past four years. He has been Police Chief for Southern University at New Orleans for three and a half years. By holding both positions, he may be violating Louisiana’s Dual Office Holding and Dual Employment Law.

The law states: “No person holding an elective office in a political subdivision of this state shall at the same time hold another elective office or full-time appointive office in the government of this state or in the government of a political subdivision thereof. No such person shall hold at the same time employment in the government of this state, or in the same political subdivision in which he holds an elective office.”

Read more about Thomas and what might happen next in The Lens.

Update 3-19-13:  Board President Ira Thomas said he will seek the opinion of the state Attorney General on whether it is legal for him to be both the board President and an employee of Southern University at New Orleans, where he directs security. 

OPSB Elections Bring New Faces to the Table

In the OPSB elections on November 6, three incumbents were defeated. With so many new faces on the OPSB, its future direction and focus are uncertain. One of the first major decisions for this new School Board will be selecting the next superintendent.

Read more about the new School Board:  Orleans Parish School Board elections leave unresolved questions

Election Results

District 1 - Incumbent Ira Thomas (68%) defeats Heidi Lovett Daniels (32%)
District 2 - Incumbent Cynthia Cade (51%) defeats Dwight McKenna (38%) and Durrell Laurent (11%)
District 3 - Sarah Usdin (58%) defeats incumbent Brett Bonin (32%) and Karran Harper Royal (10%)
District 4 - Leslie Ellison (52%) defeats incumbent Lourdes Moran (48%)
District 6 - Incumbent Woody Koppel (66%) defeats Jason Coleman (34%)
District 7 - Nolan Marshall (68%) defeats incumbent Thomas Robichaux (21%) and Kwame Smith (11%)

In other election news: Term limits for school boards seeing wide approval

New SPS Calculations for 2012-13 School Year

When School Performance Scores (SPS) are released this fall (2012 scores), they will be based on the same formula as in the past, except the score for a failing school increases from 65 to 75.

Next year at this time, however, the 2013 School Performance Scores will be calculated very differently. Here are some of the highlights:

Scale: The simplified scale will run between 150 and 0. (Currently it runs from 200 to 0.)

School Grades: An SPS of 100 will equal an A; an SPS of less than 50 will equal an F.

K-8 Schools:

  • LEAP and iLeap – Schools will not receive points for scores below Basic; English and math test scores will be double weighted for all grades.
  • Attendance – Will not be part of the SPS calculation.

High Schools: The changes in calculating the SPS for high schools are more significant. Read More »

And the OPSB Candidates Are….

This fall, all seven seats on the Orleans Parish School Board will be up for election. This election is important because:

  • This board will choose the new School Superintendent.
  • This board will play an important role in the return of RSD schools to local control over the next few years. 
The primary will be held November 6, 2012, and runoff elections will be held December 8, 2012. 

Here is a list of candidates by district. Read More »

Proposed Accountability Plan for Voucher Schools Released

Superintendent White has issued his proposed standards 
for Academic Accountability for Voucher Schools.

BESE will meet tomorrow (Tuesday, July 24th) at 11:00 am to vote on Superintendent White’s Proposed Policy for the Voucher Program.

Educate Now! supports these policy recommendations and strongly urges BESE to approve them.

Quick Summary

Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year:

  • Schools with fewer than 10 voucher students in a tested grade and with fewer than a total of 40 voucher students enrolled in tested grades (3-11) will have their test results reported by grade (if more than 10 students) and by program (all students tested if more than 10 total). Read More »