Orleans Parish school superintendent Henderson Lewis announced plans at Thursday night’s board meeting to take over one troubled charter school, and pass off another.
Lewis says management problems at Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy are so bad, he’s not even going to let the school finish out the school year under its current leadership. Harney’s board is under investigation for a number of questionable financial practices. Lewis has begun the process of revoking Harney’s charter.
"This is no light decision," Lewis said at the board meeting. "But when the taxpayers' money and our parents’ children are at stake, I must make serious actions."
Lewis says if the revocation is finalized, the school district will take over Harney as early as January and run the school through the spring semester. After that, the school would close. Harney is located in Central City and serves about 300 students in grades K-8.
Meanwhile, Lewis is offloading Cypress Academy. The district told parents they would run that school for two years, after it’s board ran out of money last May. But Lewis says he’s closing the school, and allowing another charter - Foundation Preparatory Academy - to absorb Cypress students.
“Unfortunately the outlook of Cypress is now more dire than it was in May, and I can no longer direct-run that site," Lewis said.
The district says enrollment at Cypress is lower than expected. The school serves about 150 students in grades K-4. A high percentage of Cypress students have disabilities, which is an expensive population to serve. Parents are accusing Lewis of going back on his word.