By Wilborn P. Nobles III
October 11, 2018
Crescent Leadership Academy, an alternative middle and high school located in the Algiers neighborhood in New Orleans, announced Thursday (October 11) that its campus will close at the end of October.
|Orleans Parish School Board superintendent of schools Dr. Henderson|
Lewis Jr. speaks during a press conference in New Orleans Oct. 9, 2018.
The Crescent Leadership Board of Directors this month decided to turn in their charter effective October 31, according to an October 10 letter from Orleans Parish School Board Superintendent Henderson Lewis. News of the closure was first reported by WWNO.
In his letter, Lewis slammed Crescent Leadership for it's "unacceptable" decision to close the school in the middle of the school year. He stressed he is committed to finding "a new educational setting" for the remaining 66 students attending Crescent Leadership.
Crescent Leadership was one of four charter schools in the city that serves students who either enroll there by choice or after being expelled from their home school. Students in these programs could also be awaiting trial or are convicted of a crime.
- Black youth disproportionately fill LA.'s alternative schools: report -- Students referred to an alternative school in Louisiana are five times more likely than their peers to drop out of school.
Lewis stated in his letter that roughly 40 percent of the students currently attending Crescent Leadership were enrolled there due to expulsion. The district plans to end the expulsion terms early for 24 students at the academy whose expulsion terms were ending in December in an effort to help them select another school.
The remaining few students with expulsion terms continuing through the end of this school year will be placed at The NET and ReNEW Accelerated High School, two other alternative schools within the city's school system.
The decision will leave New Orleans without any alternative school setting for seventh- and eighth-graders who have been expelled. The city’s two other alternative programs serve only high school students.
"We will be investigating this decision to surrender and pursing any recourse where needed," reads the letter from Lewis.
The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools also slammed the academy board's decision Thursday. In a released statement, association executive director Caroline Roemer said they are "deeply disappointed" because the academy board's decision "impacts the lives of students who deserve better."
"It is unacceptable to turn your back so abruptly on students whose futures depended on these school leaders. Even so, because CLA has consistently underperformed and struggled with leadership and finances, we believe there are better options for our students," Roemer stated.
The decision to close the academy comes a month after the board discussed difficulties in hiring positions at the school. Meeting minutes from the academy board's September 20 meeting stated the academy has "critical positions to fill but can't due to budget."
The meeting minutes also stated the charter's revenue is "significantly lower" this year. The academy only had 58 students in August even though they budgeted for 73 students. The board was also beginning to consider new strategies to raise funds and student growth during their September meeting.
A report released by the Louisiana Department of Education in October, 2017 found that high rates of expulsion and suspension among Louisiana's black students has led to a disproportionate amount of black youth being enrolled in the state's alternative education programs. The report stated more than 18,000 students in Louisiana are enrolled in one of the state's 35 alternative education schools or 127 alternative education programs.