Recovery School District

New Schools For New Orleans CEO Patrick Dobard used to lead the Recovery School District. He talked with WWNO's Jess Clark about the strengths and challenges of the city's schools.
Courtesy of New Schools For New Orleans

New Orleans is on the verge of becoming the first city in the nation with no traditional public schools. Next school year, all New Orleans public schools will be either charters, or something similar known as 'contract schools.'  Patrick Dobard has seen the school system evolve since Hurricane Katrina. Dobard ran the Recovery School District from 2012 to 2017. Now he’s the CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, a nonprofit focused on improving the city’s schools. He sat down with WWNO education reporter Jess Clark to talk about how well the city's school system is working.

Orleans Parish officials say this is the fourth year of stagnant or declining test scores.
DCJOHN / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A new study from Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance looks into how charter school reforms impacted New Orleans' expulsion and suspension rates. Researchers found that the reforms increased expulsion rates in the first few years after the state took over the city's schools, but that after mounting public pressure and a lawsuit, expulsion rates dropped back down.

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.

frwl / Wikimedia

Public schools in Orleans parish have been steadily improving in the years since Hurricane Katrina, but lost ground this year — according to school performance scores released by the state Tuesday.

Amy Jeffries / Southern Education Desk

The big push for charter schools in Louisiana started after Hurricane Katrina. The state's Recovery School District took over most of the public schools in New Orleans, and quickly issued charters.

With charter school enrollment up to nearly 3 million nationwide last year, Louisiana was still among the states adding the most students.

Today, for the first time, a charter school board voted to transfer from the Recovery School District back to the Orleans Parish School Board.

When the Recovery School District was created in 2003, the directive was clear: take over failing schools, turn them around, then transfer them back to the Orleans Parish School Board.

But now charter school boards decide whether to transfer to local control or stay in the state-run RSD. Until now, no eligible schools have returned to OPSB.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

This weekend New Orleans voters decide whether to extend and redirect a property tax to fund school maintenance. The measure seems simple: set aside money so schools don't fall into disrepair. But the millage vote reflects a power struggle in New Orleans schools.

Last month, a banner started appearing outside schools. It features a racially diverse group of kids, with crisp jeans and wide smiles. Each gives a big thumbs up. The accompanying text: Our children, our schools. Not a tax increase. Vote December 6.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be reviewing the shrinking budget for New Orleans schools.

The board is meeting Tuesday to start talks about the Recovery School District.

The Lens is reporting that the RSD operating budget has plunged from $304 million in 2009-2010 to $20 million for next year.

The reduction is not surprising. New Orleans is the country’s first all-charter school district, and the per-pupil funding that went to the RSD will now go to charter organizations.

When Failing Schools Close, Results Are Mixed

Jan 8, 2014
Janaya Williams / The Lens

Last year, the Recovery School District closed four elementary schools in New Orleans because of poor performance, affecting about one thousand students, who had to find another school this year.

Now, state officials have released grades for many of the new schools those students are enrolled in. The question is whether those students who were forced to change schools ended up at better schools than the ones they left.

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