Jess Clark

Education Desk Reporter

Jess Clark is WWNO's Education Desk reporter. Jess comes to the station after two years as Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting for North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC (Chapel Hill). Her reporting has aired on national programs, including NPR's All Things ConsideredHere & Now from WBURand NPR's Weekend Edition

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Jess graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with a master's in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Ways to Connect

Kaseem Short is pastor of Thomas United Methodist Church in Kenner, which is calling on the mayor to rescind the ban on Nike products.
2kphotos / Courtesy of the Short family

Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn rescinded his ban on Nike products Wednesday afternoon. Last week, Zahn told the city’s Parks and Recreation department and booster clubs to stop buying from the company after Nike launched an ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who started a movement of player protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

National Hurricane Center

8 p.m.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell has ordered City Hall and all City government offices to open for a half-day on Wednesday, starting at noon.

A new state report showing how well students are progressing shows less than half of Louisiana students are on track to master important skills and knowledge.
DCJOHN / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Less than half of Louisiana students are on track to master important math, reading and writing skills, according to a new report from the Louisiana Department of Education.  

Half of Lafayette Academy students will attend school this year at the old McDonogh 35 building on Kelerec Street.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

Students from Lafayette Academy Charter School finally returned to the classroom Monday, after a botched asbestos cleanup job created a mess at their school this summer. But some parents aren’t happy with the temporary accommodations at the old McDonogh 35 building. 

Cheundra Bailey and Ernest Canty embrace in their favorite spot to unwind - the neutral ground on Caliborne Ave. The two have criminal records, but are determined to find legal work.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

There are a lot of Louisianians with criminal records. The state has the second-highest incarceration rate in the country, behind Oklahoma. In New Orleans, 1 in 7 African American men have been incarcerated at some point in their lives. Louisianians with felonies also face the most restrictions in the nation when it comes to getting jobs.

Cheundra Bailey is struggling to find a way to pay for her daughter's high school uniform.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

In New Orleans, many families are living paycheck to paycheck. So when the start of the school year comes around, the added cost of returning to the classroom can be a major burden. 

S&WB Interim Operations Manager Joe Sensebe says the board has made major repairs since Aug. 5, 2017.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

It’s been almost exactly one year since record-breaking rains flooded much of the city, and the city’s pumping and drainage system couldn’t keep up. Later it was revealed that many of the Sewerage and Water Board pumps and turbines weren’t working. Sewerage and Water Board officials say since then they've made $82 million in repairs, and today, the pumping and drainage system is in much better shape.

Dulac, Louisiana, is a 30-minute drive from the nearest grocery store, making it difficult on families who struggle with food security.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

More than half of Louisiana’s public school children get free or reduced-priced meals at school because their families are struggling financially. But when school lets out for the summer, kids still need to eat. And that’s tough on poor families, especially in rural areas. 

Lafayette Academy parents attended a meeting with school officials to get answers about asbestos removal jobs that took place at the school.
Jess Clark / WWNO

Parents at New Orleans charter school Lafayette Academy have lots of questions after an investigation by WWNO revealed issues with asbestos removal at the school in 2017. School officials maintain no children were endangered.

A photo from a 2017 LDEQ report showing an unsecured asbestos containment area at Lafayette Academy Charter School.
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Orleans Parish School Board that they were not aware of the March 2017 report from LDEQ, and were not in control of the school or its building at that time.

New Orleans charter school Lafayette Academy has been forced to close its campus after contamination from an asbestos removal job. School district officials have said children weren’t on campus during the work. But state records show this isn’t the first time asbestos removal has been mishandled at Lafayette Academy.

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