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OPSB Elects New Board Member, Approves Creation Of Racial Equity Plan For NOLA-PS

Jess Clark
WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

The Orleans Parish School Board selected Grisela Jaskon as an interim member following a vote at Thursday’s meeting. It also approved a proposal to evaluate racial equity across NOLA Public Schools and a measure that will help cushion schools against the projected drop in sales tax.

Jackson will represent District 5, which includes parts of the Lower Garden District, Uptown and Central City. She replaces Ben Kleban who is resigning from his seat this month after his family decided to move out of state. Jackson’s term begins next week and will run through the board elections in November.

A native of Puerto Rico, Jackson moved to New Orleans when she was 8 years old and attended Orleans Parish public schools.

"As someone whose life has been shaped by education, I have worked in the trenches," Jackson said. "I have been a parent, a pastor's wife, a tutor, a community advocate, a charter school leader and charter school board member."

Jackson helped write the charter for Crocker Arts and Technology, which opened in 2008. The school later closed due to failing grades and was taken over by New Orleans College Prep — the charter school that Kleban founded. Jackson serves on the charter’s board as treasurer.

Addressing Racial Equity

NOLA Public Schools will hire an outside consultant to assess disparities by race and develop an “equity plan to ensure that racism does not affect outcomes and experience for our students and families,” according to the approved resolution.

NOLA Public Schools serves approximately 45,000 students. More than 80 percent are Black.

The consultant will consider things like discipline data and whether student “wraparound services” take into account cultural needs. They will also examine whether school resources officers are trained in restorative justice practices and whether students should receive Know Your Rights Training.

While the racial equity plan is meant to address inequities across all schools and district administration, charters are largely free to set their own policies.

The resolution comes after weeks of national protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Additionally, a recent citywide survey of New Orleans youth found that Black students have less positive experiences when it comes to teacher quality and school climate.

Aubri Juhasz covers K-12 education, focusing on charter schools, education funding, and other statewide issues. She also helps edit the station’s news coverage.

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