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The Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy in New Orleans is one of four charter schools that could be shut down by the Orleans Parish district.

Orleans Parish district recommends closing 4 charter schools

School board is scheduled to decide on superintendent's recommendations later this week.

Orleans Parish (La.) district Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. wants to close four charter schools where he had already halted enrollment.

The Lens reports that the schools recommended for closure are Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence AcademyMedard Nelson Elementary School, William J. Fischer Elementary School and McDonogh 32 Elementary School.

The news comes days after the state Department of Education released annual school ratings. Nelson, Fischer, and McDonogh 32 all had F's for several years in a row.

Fischer and McDonogh 32 are housed in the same building. Both are overseen by the Algiers Charter group. Nelson is overseen by the New Beginnings Schools Foundation.

Administrative issues are also considered in the renewal process. Harney had received a C last year but that dropped to a D this year. However, administrative problems are the reason the district is denying its charter. The school received 11 notices of non-compliance in the last year — for financial mismanagement, failing to follow charter school governance standards and inadequate special education services.

Orleans Parish halted its citywide centralized enrollment lottery at the four schools earlier this fall. District officials said they didn’t want any more students to enroll at schools that were likely to close at the end of the school year. That move sent a strong signal that the schools were in danger of being shut down.

Approved charter groups are awarded five-year contracts to operate a school. During the fourth year of operation, schools can receive a one-year extension. During their fifth year of operation, district administrators decide whether to renew the school’s contract. Renewals are generally for five years, but can be longer if a school performs well.

Of  nine other schools up for charter renewals. Lewis is recommending that seven get five-year contracts. They are Dolores T. Aaron Elementary School, KIPP East Community, Lafayette Academy, Lake Area at John F. Kennedy High School, Samuel J. Green Charter School, Sophie B. Wright Learning Academy and Success Preparatory Academy.

He recommends that ARISE Academy, which has a D letter grade, and ReNEW Accelerated High School, an alternative high school, each receive three-year contracts.

Lewis is also recommending Foundation Preparatory Academy and Andrew H. Wilson Charter School receive charter extensions to finish out their current five-year contracts.

This summer, all New Orlean charters that had been overseen by the Recovery School District charters were transferred back to control of the Orleans Parish district.

Lewis’ recommendations go before the Orleans Parish School Board later this week. His decisions stand unless the board overrides them.


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