Parents of Lagniappe Academies rally against closing the school

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TREME (WGNO) -- A troubled charter school in Treme, accused of being negligent with its special-ed students, will close at the end of the school year.  But parents aren't letting that happen without a fight.  Emotions ran high at a rally at Lagniappe Academies Monday evening.

Just months before Lagniappe Academies shuts its doors for good, parents frustrated with the charter school system speak out in anger.

"We have some children in this school and some children all across the city. We're constantly bussing our children to and from school, we're constantly waking up every single morning in the wee morning hours and walking through the streets of New Orleans. This isn't choice. We don't want this. This is not what children need. They need stability. This is not right. This is absolutely not right and we're not going to stand for it anymore," says parent Harold Bailey.

Last week, the Recovery School District notified Lagniappe Academies that it will be closing down at the end of the school year.

"We have to sit down and explain to them that their lives are changed. They won't see the same friends anymore. They won't see the same teachers anymore. That education they were receiving, that learning they were getting that was fit for their needs is going to be different. Now they have to get reacclimated to someone else, someone who may not care as much," says parent Anthony Parker.

The troubled school has had its share of controversies.  The Louisiana Department of Education says Lagniappe has been ignoring the needs of its disabled students and covering up its misdoings during visits from state officials.  In a statement, the Recovery School District tells WGNO:

"Last week, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to deny Lagniappe Academies' request for renewal of its charter. This decision affirms the recommendation of the RSD and Louisiana Department of Education, a recommendation based on evidence indicating that Lagniappe failed to equitably serve all students.. The school accountability policies put into place by the RSD and LDE are intended to ensure all schools are accountable for serving all students."

"I can't deny wrongdoings were done. In spite of who did what, when, where or how it was done, we were not given a chance to rectify the situation," says parent Wanda Evans.

Now, nearly 180 students in grades K-4 will have to find another school through a lottery system that parents say doesn't offer them much of a choice.

"It's a whole new bonding that we have to deal with now because of a decision we didn't make. We chose to stay at Lagniappe. We chose to come to Lagniappe and we're choosing to fight for Lagniappe," says Parker.

Parents at the rally say they're drafting a "Parent's Bill of Rights" they plan to present to the legislature.  They also want the state to consider running Lagniappe Academies as an Orleans Parish School or choosing a new charter operator.

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