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Story Archives: BESE says Ferriday charter can move forward
|BESE says Ferriday charter can move forward|
The Board of Elementary & Secondary Education (BESE) agreed Tuesday to allow the Delta Charter Group to move forward with its plan to open a charter school in Ferriday.
The group's president, Michael Burley, said BESE's approval of the school's charter requires that a director/principal be identified by Feb. 15.
"Now that we have the charter, we have the ability to go out and find someone for the job," he said. "We're looking forward to opening a school with a curriculum that is rigorous, aggressive and gives children and parents another option."
He said the group hopes to open the school in 2012, but faces a "monumental task" of meeting conditions.
"We're totally excited and eager to get started," he said.
Burley said BESE's decision to grant the charter was likely due to a number of reasons.
"I think they want to give rural school districts an option, a choice, as to where they want to send their children to school," Burley said. "We do not have that option of choice right now."
Gov. Bobby Jindal addressed education reform at a meeting in Baton Rouge on Tuesday and said his plans include expansion of the number of charter schools in the state.
"Let me be clear – this plan is not about pitting school boards vs. charter schools or teachers unions vs. parents," he said.
BESE's decision came as a surprise to officials with the Concordia Parish School Board, who were in attendance at BESE's meeting Tuesday. The Board denied Delta Charter School's request for a type 1 charter last year.
The board's decision followed a recommendation by Supt. Loretta Blankenstein based "on the large number of standards that were not met or were only approaching the standards."
The Delta Charter group was organized after Huntington School closed in Ferriday in May 2010.
In a lengthy report, Dr. Anna Bernard, hired to review the charter group's application and recommended as a reviewer by the National Charter School Association, presented the board with a lengthy review and analysis of the request, indicating that standards were not met.
Blankenstein said the last notice on BESE's website concerning the local charter indicated it was denied "based on educational standards."
She said the BESE's decision contradicted its own guidelines of standards for the establishment of a charter school.
"All of this is a contradiction in the procedures that we were required to follow," Blankenstein said. "In December, BESE voted to give them more time to improve their application, came back to the state department on Jan. 2 and had an interview. Then last Thursday, BESE's own website recommended denial."
She said this is the first time a charter has been granted "when the application did not meet the standard" set by BESE.
In working on the charter group's application with the School Board last year, Blankenstein said "we followed all the procedures that we were told to follow, hired an outside evaluator so we wouldn't be biased."
According to the Louisiana Charter Schools Association website, charter schools are independent public schools that are open to all students regardless of income, gender, race or religion and exist under a contract with an authoritative public body, such as a state or local school board, that holds the charter school accountable for results. Charter schools are funded by taxpayer money.
Concordia School Board Director of Academic Affairs Paul Nelson said that ultimately the charter group will "have to meet Justice Department approval to open their school."
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