New Orleans No Longer an All-Charter District with Opening of New School

In August, New Orleans Public Schools is set to unveil a district-run educational institution commemorating Leah Chase, a revered culinary matriarch and civil rights luminary, with an eye on cultural and historical enrichment. This school, located in a historic venue, will replace the struggling Lafayette Academy Charter School and enroll up to 320 students spanning pre-K through eighth grade.

While gearing up for the launch of the Leah Chase school, New Orleans district officials are making strides in staffing, curricular development, uniform selection, and logistical arrangements alongside establishing requisite support departments for running direct schools. Superintendent Avis Williams anticipates these initiatives will pave the way for more direct-run schools under the NOLA Public Schools umbrella.

Transitioning from a contentious seven-year all-charter model, New Orleans is embracing a dual role as a charter school authorizer and conventional school district, a shift that resonates well with the city’s charter school proponents.

Expressing a non-biased stance, Sabrina Pence, CEO of FirstLine Schools, conveys her support for the district’s endeavor, “We wish the district every success in direct-running its first school in a while.” Echoing this sentiment, Caroline Roemer, the Head of Louisiana Public Charter School Association, expresses confidence in the efficient management of Leah Chase.

Professor Doug Harris of Tulane University views the move towards overseeing direct-run schools as a strategic evolution that can equip the district with the resilience to tackle unforeseen educational challenges effectively.

Reverting to direct management of schools marks a significant pivot in New Orleans’ post-Katrina educational landscape, transitioning from state control and fostering a novel accountability-driven system with proven positive student outcomes.

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