Questions, concerns raised about take-over charter

Questions, concerns raised about take-over charter
Photo provided by staff
Friday, November 1, 2013 - 7:05pm

Five new charter organizations are poised to take-over some of Baton Rouge's most difficult schools, a closer look at the track records of those charters shows at least one has been denied in Louisiana already.

Next school year Capitol High School will be transformed to Friendship Academy, a Washington DC based charter with a long history. This isn't the first time the charter organization has applied to open up an operation here in Louisiana, but it is the first time it's been accepted.

"That's a concern for me, because if we denied them and this third party evaluator said a year ago that they didn't meet these standards, now here it is a almost a year later and they approved them. That raises a red flag for me," said Caroline Hill.

Capitol alumni and parent Daysey Johnson is cautiously optimistic about the take-over, but added that the fact that the charter was denied once before does raise some concerns.

"I hope you know the system here before you move in another charter school all the way from Washington, coming from Washington DC, I hope they know what they're doing and what they'll be getting in for when they come here,” explained Johnson, “But if it works and they can come in and process it and make it a better school, I am all for it. I am all for it. Bring in more teachers, bring in more information, bring in more mentors."

Representatives from the Department of Education explained that the charter was denied the first time by a third party and they are not sure why it wasn't deemed worthy of granting a charter.

“They learned from the feedback received during that process and submitted a better application this year. A third party evaluator and the Department gave the application a positive recommendation. The goal of the charter application process is for it to be a developmental process in which applicants receive valuable feedback. The Department is gratified to see an applicant reapply with an improved application and achieve success,” state a Department of Education official.

RSD superintendent Patrick Dobard said he stands by the charter's qualifications and thinks it's the best fit for the job.

"Friendship in particular, they've been very sure to see that they increase attendance at their schools where otherwise kids are just not coming to school. They have great extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, so we look at a holistic approach to what we feel would be good schools," explained Dobard at a press conference earlier in the week.

The Department of Education was not able to give specific reasons for why the charter was originally denied. This is not the first time the board of elementary and secondary education has approved a charter that was denied before, and officials with the board say it's not always an indicator of the schools success.

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