BESE votes to close charter schools in Jefferson and East Baton Rouge Parishes

BATON ROUGE, LA – The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to revoke the charters of Laurel Oaks Academy in East Baton Rouge Parish and Smothers Academy in Jefferson Parish.

The closures were announced Thursday morning, caused by serious violations of law and policy related to governance, finances and special education.

The revocations, which were initially approved by the board’s School Innovation and Turnaround Committee after public hearings earlier this week, take effect for the 2019-2020 school year.

Families of students who planned to attend these charter schools during the 2019-2020 school year can locate and view report card information for public schools in their area at louisianaschools.com, or learn about other educational opportunities at  louisianabelieves.com/schools.

Local school systems will also assist students and families in the transition, in the form of open houses.

EBR Parish Families:

The East Baton Rouge Parish School System will host a special open house for students and families of Laurel Oaks Academy on July 2, 2019, at the Instructional Resource Center, located at 1022 S. Foster Drive in Baton Rouge. The first session will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the second session will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Students and families can also apply to any of the schools in the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone (BRAZ) through a unified application at EnrollBR.org.

The deadline to apply for the 2019-2020 school year is August 1, 2019. For a list of BRAZ schools, visit EnrollBR.org/schools.

Jefferson Parish families:

Jefferson Parish Public Schools will mail each student and family information about the public schools located in their attendance zone along with an invitation for school registration. For additional information, e-mail jppsscustomerfeedback@jppss.k12.la.us.

Orleans Parish families:

Students and families interested in any available seats in an Orleans Parish public school should attend a late enrollment event at Dillard University in New Orleans. The events will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day from July 15 to July 19, 2019. Students and families unable to attend one of the late enrollment events at Dillard University can receive information at one of the school system’s Family Resource Centers starting July 29, 2019.

All available K-12 seats will be granted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Caroline Roemer, Executive Director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, released this statement regarding the BESE’s unanimous decisions:
“The opportunity to serve students is a privilege and comes with great responsibility to both improve academic outcomes for students and to be good stewards of public dollars. These schools failed to meet those minimum criteria. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) created a hearing process that was fair and transparent. We appreciate that both schools were provided the opportunity to present their cases, setting a precedent for how such proceedings will be conducted if required in the future. For over a dozen years the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) has supported and advocated on behalf of the 156 charter schools throughout the state. By offering parents a choice in their child’s education and allowing educators to make decisions as close to students as possible – while upholding rigorous standards in the areas of academics, finance, and legal obligations – we can drive excellent outcomes.  When a school does not meet those standards, they should no longer have the opportunity to operate.  The facts of these cases proved that both schools failed to comply with a multitude of legal matters, and the LDOE confirmed that students currently enrolled in those schools have other higher performing school options available to them. LAPCS supports BESE’s decision, and we will share with other charter schools and their authorizers lessons learned from these two schools.”
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