Two days after the Orleans Parish (La.) district threatened to revoke charters for two elementary schools, the board for Einstein Charter Schools has agreed to provide busing for its youngest students.
The Lens reports that the sudden reversal follows months of legal posturing in which the school district maintained that the charter group was required to provide busing at its two elementary schools, Village De L'Est and Sherwood Forest.
Einstein had contended it was following the rules by providing free public-transit vouchers, but relented after the district took steps to wrest operation of the schools from the charter network.
“We will be providing yellow bus transportation within two weeks,” Einstein board member Durrell Laurent says.
The Orleans Parish district stepped up the pressure last week by announcing it had begun the process to revoke charters for the two elementary schools. The district also solicited applications from other operators to run the schools this fall.
Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. told parents in a letter that Einstein had refused to follow laws ensuring all students can get to school.
In a meeting two days later, Einstein’s board authorized two of its board members to resolve the issue with the district.
Einstein Board Chairman Chris Bowman III says the board didn’t want to lose the schools and create turmoil for students and teachers with a turnover this summer.
Open-enrollment schools overseen by the school district are required to provide free transportation to students.
The school district learned in August that Einstein relies on public transit. The district directed the charter network to hire a transportation company and start busing the week after Thanksgiving. In response, Einstein’s board authorized CEO Shawn Toranto to take legal action against the school district.
The charter group estimated it saves about $523,000 a year by relying on public transit.
Last fall, Einstein asked parents to sign a petition telling the school district to “leave us alone.” It said Einstein would be forced to cut educational services if it had to provide busing.
The district sued Einstein in November over the issue.