Issue # 12
March 2010


Welcome to the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools Email Newsletter.  We will  keep you updated on current charter school issues, news, and events.  Please let us know if there is anything else you would like to see in our communications to you or if you have a charter success story you would like to share.   As always, thank you for your support and voice in Louisiana's charter school movement. 
Policy Update
BESE convened in Baton Rouge on March 9th, 10th, and 11th and subsequently held an RSD Committee meeting on March 29th in New Orleans at McDonogh 35.  Highlights include:

  • BESE voted to increase the MFP by 2.75%.  The legislature must approve this increased MFP before it takes effect for SY 2010-11.
  • Two community conversion charter schools, both in New Orleans - Spirit of Excellence Learning Academy and Morris Jeff Community School - requested that BESE approve each to open as a charter school in SY 2010-11, one-year in advance of their expected opening.  BESE deferred both requests until next month, pending review of additional information from the Department of Education.
  • Ken Campbell's outstanding service was recognized by BESE members, and all of them, including those who often voted against Mr. Campbell's recommendations, voiced sadness to see him go.  Ken's last day as Director of the State Charter School Office will be Monday, April 5th.
All Charter school boards are required to follow Louisiana Public Meeting and Public Records Law.  To better understand what is required under Louisiana Public Meeting Law (also known as Sunshine Laws), please click here.  To better understand what is required under Louisiana Public Records Law, please click here.  Both primers are provided courtesy of PAR ("Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana").  For more information on this non-profit, see

Bills to Watch


HB 388  LEAVE OF ABSENCE (Author:  P. Smith)

Removes from the law the leave of absence provision that requires a local school board grant a leave of absence, not to exceed three years, to any employee in its school system requesting such leave in order to be employed in a charter school.
Provides also that the transfer of a local school board employee to a Type 4 charter school shall be governed by the transfer policy of the local school board.
HB 420  CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING  (Author:  W. Leger)
Relative to the use of certain local revenues for computing and allocating the per pupil amount provided to all charter schools, specifies use of current year rather than prior year amounts in such computations and allocations. Also deletes provision requiring certain minimum per pupil funding pursuant to the most recent legislatively approved MFP formula.
Current law allows a charter school to choose to participate in the Teacher's Retirement System of LA (TRSL) or not. The proposed law removes the choice and requires all charter school teachers to participate in TRSL.

Establishes certain requirements for BESE and local school boards relative to
charter schools including that BESE shall develop a model compliance plan for providing special education and related services in charter schools; requires BESE to determine: whether the plan provides for a master plan for improving behavior and discipline, whether the plan provides for collecting data, and whether it provides a compliance plan for the provision of special education and related services.
Proposed requirements for charter schools:
(1) The proposed charter must provide a plan for meeting the needs of students with exceptionalities.
(2) A plan to educate parents on their educational rights under state and federal law.
(3) Include research-based discipline programs, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports, as provided in present law.
(4) Include a plan for collecting data for the compilation of progress profiles.

Provides for the creation and establishment of the La. Charter Schools Commission including its powers, duties, and membership. Also provides for the transfer of certain present law powers, duties, and authority relative to charter schools from BESE to the commission.

Establishes enrollment preferences for students residing within a geographic attendance zone created by the charter school and approved by the charter school's authorizer.  Beginning in the 2010-11 school year, thirty percent of the charter school's population must be derived from the specified attendance zone; if such cannot be accomplished by then, it must be accomplished as "quickly as practicable."
Mandates the creation of a seven-member community advisory board for every school - RSD direct-operated or RSD charter school - in the Recovery School District.
Also prohibits BESE from authorizing a new or conversion charter school in the RSD for which not more than one application was received.
SB 157  FORCED ARBITRATION  (Author:  Murray)
Demands any dispute between the Recovery School District and a charter school, or the RSD and a city, parish, or other local school board, arising out of a contractual matter shall be referred to and resolved by binding arbitration.
SB 240  OPSB $9 MILLION CARVE-OUT  (Author:  Murray)
Allows the Orleans Parish School Board to withhold monies otherwise transferrable to the Recovery School District to cover the actual amount expended by the OPSB for the cost of workers' compensation premiums and the employee and employer portions of health insurance benefits for retired employees incurred by the OPSB, not to exceed $9 million annually.   These carve-outs are in addition to the carve-outs currently allowed.
Permits charter schools to require only those teachers who were members of TRSL due to previous employment to continue active membership in TRSL throughout the duration of their employment at the charter school. All other teachers may not be eligible to participate in TRSL if the charter school so chooses.
Expands transparency of local authorizers during the approval and renewal process.  Specifically, for the approval process, local authorizers now must furnish all application requirements on the local district's website, must review all applications over a 90-day period, and must issue all decisions in writing no later than May 31 st of each year.
For the renewal process, local authorizers must notify a charter operator in writing of any decisions made relative to the renewal or non-renewal of a school's charter not later than January 31st of the year in which the charter would expire.
Finally, for all types of charter schools, a charter school which has met or exceeded the benchmarks established for it in accordance with the school and district accountability system, has demonstrated growth in student achievement, and has had no significant audit findings shall be deemed a high-performing school and its charter shall be automatically renewed.
Prohibits any local revenue to fund a Type 2 charter school unless a special election is held and the voters so decide by a majority vote.


Same language as HB 1128 above


Requires each member of the governing authority or management board of a charter school to file a "Tier 2.1" financial disclosure report as required by current Ethics law.


Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced his "Education Task Force" this month, and many members from the charter school community were invited to participate including LAPCS Executive Director Caroline Roemer Shirley, as well as LAPCS MAC Board Representative, Hal Brown.  We will keep you updated on any pertinent news regarding the work of this committee.
Louisiana Public Affairs Research Council Identifies Best Practices for Charter Schools
March 9, 2010

CONTACT: Karen Rowley, Ph.D.
                 Special Projects Manager
                  (225) 926-8414 ext. 26

The Public Affairs Research Council (PAR) today released an in-depth research report identifying best practices among Louisiana charter schools that can be replicated both in traditional public schools and new charter schools. "Charter Schools in Louisiana: What Lessons Do They Have to Offer the Education Community?" describes these best practices, explains how charter schools are using them and calls for the state to take an active role in collecting and disseminating information about them to all school districts and schools.

"We know that members of the charter school community are exchanging information about these practices as they work to improve the educational achievement of their students," said PAR President Jim Brandt. "It only makes sense for the state to get the maximum benefit from the lessons being learned in the charter schools and to share those lessons as widely as possible."

The report finds a number of best practices that can be grouped into five categories.

Establishing a learning environment

Best practices: clearly defined academic expectations, clearly defined behavioral expectations, a rewards or incentive system to encourage good conduct, unity-building events, parental involvement initiatives, calm and encouraging atmosphere

Data-driven instruction

Best practices: clearly defined assessment structures, mandatory tracking and analysis of data generated from assessments, intervention plans

Student enrichment

Best practices: extended school days, extended school years, Saturday programs, summer programs, non-academic activities, field trips

Teacher support and development

Best practices: Informal and formal observations of classrooms, administrative and peer feedback, regularly scheduled planning periods, regularly scheduled department/grade level meetings, regularly scheduled faculty meetings, professional development

Policy-focused governing boards

Best practices: Formal process for selecting new board members, diversity of skills among board members, clearly defined process for evaluating school leader, succession planning, formal board training

All of these best practices can be replicated in both traditional public schools and new charter schools, but they are labor-intensive and require a significant amount of organization and preparation before they can be implemented. In general, Louisiana's charter schools are better positioned to implement them because of their autonomy and flexibility. It is not impossible for traditional public schools to do the same thing, however. For example, the Recovery School District already has begun to implement a number of the best practices described here in its traditional, public schools.

The problem is that information about these practices tends to be exchanged primarily among those in the charter school community. At the same time, local school districts generally are suspicious of, if not hostile toward, charter schools. That makes it difficult to engage in a public dialogue about which practices are working well and which lend themselves to replication in traditional public schools. In light of this, PAR makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation 1: The state Department of Education should create an advisory council to conduct ongoing analysis of best practices in Louisiana charter schools that can be replicated in traditional public schools and help develop guidelines for how these best practices might be implemented. Further, the council should prepare an annual report for dissemination among all local school districts.

The data also showed some areas of ongoing concern for charter schools, including funding, facilities, community outreach and transparency. Transparency, in particular, is a concern because it refers to the ease with which the public can access information about existing and proposed charter schools. Unfortunately, the charter school landscape in Louisiana remains difficult for many parents to navigate. Therefore, PAR has two recommendations to enhance the transparency of charter schools:

Recommendation 2: The state Department of Education should maintain a Web site with an accurate and easily accessible inventory of charter schools statewide, along with copies of their charters, amendments to those charters, the process for third-year performance evaluations and for charter renewals, and summary budget documents to ensure maximum transparency in the expenditure of public dollars. In addition, the Web site should provide links to all of the charter schools' Web sites.

Recommendation 3: State law should require each charter school to have a Web site that provides such information as the school's physical address, phone number and name of a specific contact person; a list of administrators, faculty and staff, and their work contact information; a list of governing board members, and the time and place of all of their meetings for the school year; and the agendas for all board meetings so that parents and other interested parties will know ahead of time what is to be discussed. In addition, each school should provide a clear explanation of its admission requirements, if there are any, and a step-by-step explanation of how to register.

The charter school experiment is just underway in New Orleans and in the state as a whole. The early indications are that it is succeeding in bringing student achievement up, but more time is needed. PAR's research has identified some best practices that can help increase the chances for success among Louisiana's charter schools. Further, these best practices do not have to be unique to charter schools; they can be implemented in any school and in any district willing to try new ideas.

"The state should take advantage of this opportunity and of growing public support to encourage all public schools to adopt those best practices that might work for them," said Brandt.

Karen M. Rowley, Ph.D., special projects manager, is the primary author of this report. Funding for this research was provided by Baptist Community Ministries, Community Coffee Fund, Keller Family Foundation and Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation. For additional information or to download a copy of the report, go to PAR's Web site at

Charter 1st Fridays at Akili Academy & Kenilworth Science & Tech
Akili Academy's morning Dream Circle

A new program called Charter First Fridays invites the community to visit, tour and learn about public charter schools. Created by the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Charters First Fridays takrs place on the first Friday of every month.

In February, Akili Academy in New Orleans and Kenilworth Science & Technology Charter Schools opened their doors to the public.

"Across the nation, high-quality charter schools are providing families and children with an education that was not available to them 18 years ago. In cities like New York City, Chicago, and Boston, charter schools are working to close the achievement gap and transform children's lives. Still, most people have never seen these inspiring public schools in action," said National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President and CEO Nelson Smith. "Charter First Fridays seeks to change that by setting up regular opportunities for members of the public to visit a charter school and get involved in the movement where they live."

The first Friday of every month, the LAPCS will assist a charter school in opening it's doors to the community.  This is a great opportunity for the business community, prospective parents and students, and the general public to step inside a charter school and witness firsthand the innovation in learning that takes place.

On April 9, 2010, Einstein Charter School will be open in New Orleans, and Crestworth Learning Academy will be open in Baton Rouge.

If you are interested in participating in the Charter First Fridays program, please contact Elizabeth Garrett at
Job Listings On LAPCS Website
Please note that the LAPCS website now has a statewide job vacancy posting page on our website.  Please let your HR or recruiting staffer know that this resource is available. To access the page, click HERE.
The Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools also has a New Orleans job vacancy page available.  To access this site, click HERE.

Grant Opportunities

The LAPCS is pleased to bring you a comprehensive list of grant opportunities that may be of interest to Louisiana's charter schools.  The list is updated daily with new and interesting grant opportunities, so check back often! To visit the list click HERE.

4th Annual Certified Teachers Fair
Saturday, May 15th, 2010   9 a.m. - 1 p. m.
Xavier University Student Center
Third Floor Ballroom
4980 Dixon Street, New Orleans
Open to all charter schools in the state.  Charter Schools can register on the Eastbank Collaborative web site.

Tulane Hosts the Aspen Institute's Commission on NCLB National Public Hearing
The Aspen Institute's Commission on No Child Left Behind invites you to attend a national public hearing:

Working Together for Student Success:
Accountability, Data, and High Standards
April 5, 2010
1:00 - 4:00 P.M.
Tulane University (Lavin Bernick Center - Room #213/Kendall Cram Room)

The President's recent call to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in his State of the Union address comes at a time of reform momentum. Much promising work is underway, but accountability risks getting lost in the shuffle of competing federal programs, priorities, and requirements if ESEA-the anchor of K-12 federal policy-is not updated to reflect the shifting landscape, as well as incorporate needed changes like the use of growth models. Many questions remain about how best to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of the law's core accountability provisions and what modifications would be necessary to align to state led efforts to raise standards.
At this public hearing, Louisiana state superintendent and Commissioner Paul Pastorek and members of the Commission's Accountability, Data, and Standards Committee, chaired by National Council of La Raza's Delia Pompa, will examine the current state of accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act/ESEA, including the impact of the common standards movement and Race to the Top activity and their implications for the law's reauthorization.


- Hon. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana (invited)
- Paul Vallas, Superintendent, Recovery School District, New Orleans, LA
- Eric Smith, Commissioner, Florida Department of Education
- Rich Wenning, Associate Commissioner, Colorado Department of Education
- Aimee Guidera, Executive Director, Data Quality Campaign
- Judith Moening, Executive Director of Special Education, North East Unified School District, San Antonio, TX

To attend, please RSVP with your name, title, and affiliation to

For special accommodations please notify by March 30th. 

New Orleans Members Advisory Council
The LAPCS Members Advisory Council is a key organizational component in identifying problem issues, setting priorities, gathering data, communicating important issues, resolving problems, and more.  

Next Baton Rouge MAC Meeting:

When: April 14, 2010
           4:00 - 6:00 PM

Where: Baton Rouge TBA

Next New Orleans MAC Meeting:

When:  April 7, 2010
            5:30-7:00 PM
Where: Warren Easton Senior High
            3019 Canal Street

To register to attend the MAC Meeting, please email
Articles of Interest 
Education Secretary: "Education is the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time"
The Huffington Post
March 2, 2010

While health care may be the current hot button topic, President Obama has made it a point to also prop up another issue. "Week after week, month after month, he keeps coming back to education," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan at a reporter's roundtable last week.

"Report Examines Teachers' Views on Education Challenges"
Philanthropy News Digest
March 5, 2010

Teachers in the United States have high expectations for their students but overwhelmingly agree that too many students are leaving high school unprepared for success, a new report from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation finds.

About Us 
The mission of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) is to increase student achievement by supporting, promoting, and advocating for the quality charter school movement.

Caroline Roemer Shirley, Executive Director
Contact Caroline at
Andrea Chen, Membership & Programs Director
Contact Andrea at 
Elizabeth Garrett, Communications Director
Contact Elizabeth at

Renita Thukral, Policy Director
Contact Renita at

Sherman Whites, Business & Operations Director
Contact Sherman at
In This Issue
Policy Update
PAR Report
Charter 1st Fridays
Job Postings
Grant Opportunities
National News
ISL Board Member, Karen Dwyer receives AICPA National Public Service Award

Congratulations to Karen, who has been recognized nationally for her efforts in public service, including work with the International School of Louisiana and the new International High School.  Read More.

Delhi Charter School Student a a Finalist for Louisiana DOE's Student of the Year Competition

Congratulations to Mary Kate McEacharn an 8the grader at Delhi Charter School for the honor!

The Daily Iberian profiles  Glencoe Charter School

The newspaper spoke to school leader Michael Parrie and board member Anita Breaux about the benefits of being a charter school.  Read More.

New Orleans College Prep receives national recognition and $52,000 for student achievement gains

NOCP honored by the Effective Practice Incentive Community, and the funds will go to educators at the school.  Congratulations and good work!

Lake Forest Charter named "2010 Louisiana School of Character"

The charter school in New Orleans was honored by the LSU AgCenter 4-H Character Development Program. The school has been given this state recognition for its exemplary character development.
3rd Annual Louisiana Charter Schools Conference

October 15-16, 2010

Hilton Riverside Hotel
New Orleans

Stay tuned for more information.


Interested in saving 15-85% off the list-price on office and classroom supplies? 

 Learn more about our STAPLES Statewide Charter Schools Buying Program open to all LAPCS members!  Click HERE!



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