BCS, NCS suspend contract talks

Published 4:31 am Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bogalusa City Schools Superintendent Lisa Tanner told the Daily News on Thursday, “The charter contract negotiations have been discontinued due to the inability of Northshore Charter School and the Bogalusa City Schools to reach agreement on a number of contractual terms.”

Northshore Charter School and the city school system reportedly negotiated a charter contract for “several months,” but have been unable to reach an agreement.

“In the absence of a charter agreement, the Bogalusa City School Board is exploring options for keeping the school open through the end of this school year,” Tanner said. “Even if an agreement is reached with regard to the remainder of the current school year, Northshore Charter School will not be affiliated with the Bogalusa City School Board for the next school year.”

In a letter given to The Daily News that was addressed to the citizens of Bogalusa, Tanner wrote that this summer the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education asked Bogalusa City Schools to consider entering to a Type 1 (locally authorized) charter contract with Northshore Charter School. BESE had previously granted the school a Type 2 (state authorized) charter, but was prohibited by law from extending the charter because the school’s academic performance was too low.

Tanner wrote that Northshore Charter School has been an “F” school for every year it received a score. Each of the affected students will be assigned to a school that is higher performing than Northshore Charter School.

She said parents and guardians of students enrolled at Northshore Charter School were informed of the reassignment by letter on Feb. 5. The leadership of the school was informed the same day.

“As the Superintendent, I am saddened that we were unable to reach a mutually beneficial relationship that would have allowed us to partner with Northshore Charter School,” she wrote.

Tanner went on to say that she and her staff are working to ensure that “the affected students are not denied any educational opportunities as a result of their transfer. Our school staffs look forward to welcoming new students on March 5.”

She encourages anyone with questions or concerns to contact the school board or to attend one of the planned informational meetings, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. at Bogalusa High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20, and Tuesday, Feb. 27.

The leadership of Northshore Charter School looks at the situation differently.

“I would like to assure our parents and school community that Northshore has one objective, to keep the school open for your students,” principal Dee Dee McCullough said. “Bogalusa is not trying to close the school because we won’t negotiate, they mandated that our school reduce to a K-5 school that can only enroll 360 children and we objected. We did so because it would mean that some of the children that have attended the school for years would be forced to leave. It would mean that we could not enroll any new students, likely including kindergartens.

“Displacing children during the school year is not only morally reprehensible, but illegal, and we are challenging this action in court. Our lawyers filed documents with the court (this week) to stop the illegal actions of Bogalusa.

“We are also proud of the steps our parents took to petition the State Board of Education to allow our school to continue to operate under the auspices of the Recovery School District. The fact that they were able to collect so many signatures in such a short time shows the love this community has for this school and the need for an alternative to the schools run by the Bogalusa School Board.

“We hope both the legal action and the acceptance by the State Board of Education happens quickly. We will continue to keep you informed as this progresses.

“In the meantime, we will continue every day to provide your children with the education they deserve. We will not let these illegal and morally reprehensible actions by the Bogalusa School Board stop us from serving you.”

Caroline Roemer, executive director of Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, also commented on the issue.

“We are extremely disappointed that the Bogalusa City School District (BCSD) has intensified efforts to not only disrupt an existing school of choice, but has recently increased their campaign of misinformation,” she said. “The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) believes that Northshore Charter School has worked tirelessly with the board and the Louisiana Department of Education to find a compromise to serve students and their families. It is shameful that the school board continues to value money more than their students, and would like nothing more than to remove options from parents.

“Despite the fact that Northshore Charter School has shown academic progress, the BCSD continues their attempts to mandate an operating agreement that limits the school’s ability to serve their students and teachers appropriately, even turning down financial support from the Louisiana Department of Education. While this is an extremely stressful situation for parents, we are glad to see the community rally around their public charter school.

“LAPCS will continue to work with the Northshore Charter School through every legal channel to put the children of Bogalusa first and work to protect educational options for parents.”