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|Board takes stance on charter school|
The Concordia Parish School approved a resolution last week asking that the Delta Charter School in Ferriday not be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) "without a guarantee of federal oversight to ensure that the charter school group complies" with the racial makeup of the parish school system.
Supt. Dr. Paul Nelson said the board's decision came after the DOJ sought the school system's opinion on the matter.
He said the charter school is seeking to open in August 2013.
"When we were working to open the magnet school at Ridgecrest, the Justice Department was concerned about whether it would have a 50/50 racial make up," Nelson said. "Our parishwide racial makeup in our schools is about 50/50."
He said the board also feels that the charter school in Ferriday "should have the same risk population as the parish system, which has roughly a 77 percent free and reduced lunch population."
He said this is already a state requirement but there is no oversight on this matter from the Board of Secondary & Elementary Education.
"The charter school will have to have the permission from the court to open due to the parish desegregation order," Nelson said. "That's the process they're going through now. Then the Justice Department will take a position on their motion to open."
Board member Warren Enterkin said, "I don't think we're afraid of competition, but the field should be level. They should have the same guidelines and same testing so when compared to us it will be a level playing field."
He said the goals should be the same, too.
"We're in the business of helping all children," Enterkin said.
Delta Charter School Administrator Clovis Christmas said Tuesday "we're working diligently to make sure that we met all the mandates, federal and state. We're not going to do anything contrary to what the law would require. I can guarantee that."
He said a hearing with a federal judge is slated in Monroe for Nov. 9.
The resolution passed by the board is as follows:
"Whereas the Concordia Parish School System's racial makeup is made up of a student population of roughly 50 percent majority and 50 percent minority, the Concordia Parish School Board will oppose the granting of a charter for a charter school in Concordia Parish funded with public monies not representative of the same racial make-up. The Concordia Parish School Board feels as though any publicly funded charter school in the parish should consist of the same racial make-up as that of the parish school system and asks that a charter not be approved without a guarantee of federal oversight to ensure that the charter school group complies with said racial make-up."
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