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New Orleans Charter School Closing Mid School Year

This story has been updated.

The board of New Orleans charter school Crescent Leadership Academy is turning in its charter, effectively shutting down in the middle of the school year, according to aletter from Orleans Parish School Board superintendent Henderson Lewis.

"This decision is unacceptable and goes against everything we stand for as a community of educators leading schools in our unique system," Lewis wrote in a Oct. 10 letter to charter school leaders obtained by WWNO. 

In his letter, Lewis said he learned on Friday, Oct. 5 that Crescent Leadership Academy's board of directors decided to surrender their charter effective October 31, giving the district less than a month's notice.

"This decision is unacceptable and goes against everything we stand for" - Supt. Henderson Lewis

"I have spoken to the leadership at [Crescent Leadership Academy] to express my deep disappointment in the timing of this decision. Additionally, we will be investigating this decision to surrender and pursing any recourse where needed," Lewis wrote.

In a statement sent to WWNO Crescent Leadership Academy's board president Warren J. Atkins, Jr. said, "Crescent Leadership Academy’s decision to close is based on continual low-student enrollment which has made it difficult for the school to operate with adequate and effective services for students. CLA is working with OPSB to ensure that all students are placed since this is the focus for all parties involved. The school will close its doors October 31, 2018 but the impact that CLA has had on students and the community will exist beyond that timeframe."

According to minutes from Crescent Leadership Academy's September board meeting, the school the school was facing financial problems. 

"Revenue is significantly lower. Budgeted for 73 students we had 58 last month," the minutes say. "Revenue is about 40 percent of what it should be. Sept. will look similar to Aug. revenue."

The minutes also say the school couldn't fill "critical positions" due to a strapped budget, and was even considering using volunteers to fill those positions.

Located on the West Bank, Crescent Leadership Academy is an alternative school that serves 66 students in grades 7-12, many of whom were placed there after being expelled from other schools. Lewis' letter says roughly 40 percent of Crescent Leadership Academy's students are attending the school due to explusion. 

Lewis says the Orleans Parish School Board will allow some students to end their expulsion terms early and select another school with an open spot. Students who selected Crescent Leadership Academy by choice will be able to select a new school with an open spot. Students with longer expulsion terms will be placed at The NET or ReNEW Accelerated, two other alternative schools.

"At this time, we are committed to making sure our students and their families are supported, and we will ensure that our students have a smooth transition to continue their education this school year," the Orleans Parish School Board wrote in a statement sent from OPSB spokeswoman Dominique Ellis Thursday afternoon.

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