Lake Charles charter school application hits roadblock - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake Charles charter school application hits roadblock

The Louisiana Department of Education is not recommending approval of a charter application for a Lake Charles organization as it plans to build a second location for Kindergarten through 6th grades.

In a report released Friday, The Dept. of Education and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers said Lake Charles Charter Academy Foundation, Inc. didn't meet certain standards in it's application.  The application does not appear to affect the current charter school, which opened earlier this year.

Louisiana Dept. of Education Spokesperson Renee Greer said a BESE committee will review the panel's recommendations at a meeting Tuesday in Baton Rouge.  The full BESE board is scheduled to act on the committee's recommendation Wednesday.

"Historically, BESE has accepted public comments on charter approvals at its meetings," Greer said.

The Lake Charles Charter Academy Foundation was met with resistance in May when it went before the Calcasieu Parish School Board with a similar application.  When the School Board rejected the application, foundation president Gene Thibodeaux said he wasn't surprised and planned to appeal. 

"We're very optimistic that our second application will be approved and that we're going to open a second K-8 school hopefully in August of 2012," Thibodeaux said at the time.

In a 13 page report, an evaluation team noted the Academy partially met standard requirements for a charter. The application only met or exceeded standards for its education plan. 

In it's summary, the report blames the academy's choice for managing the school, CSUSA.

"The primary concern of the Evaluation Team in assessing organizational capacity is CSUSA's lack of compelling evidence that it will be effective with a high needs population and its inexperience implementing its educational model under Louisiana standards and the significant differences between the populations of its more successful Florida schools and the population it will serve in Calcasieu Parish," the report said.

KPLC will continue to follow this story and post updates here on



The following is a news release from the Louisiana Dept. of Education:

BATON ROUGE, La. - Out of the 40 charter school applications submitted this fall, today the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) announced it will recommend the approval of 18 applications. LDOE's recommendations mirror those made by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), which manages the independent evaluation process on behalf of LDOE and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). The BESE, which is tasked with authorizing Type 2, Type 4, and Type 5 charter schools, will vote on LDOE recommendations during its regular meeting next week.

Of the 18 applications the agency will recommend for approval, 17 are Type 5 charters; one is a Type 2 charter. A Type 2 charter school is a new school or traditional school converted to a charter school; there are currently 16 Type 2 charter schools operating in the state. A Type 5 charter school is a school that has been transferred to the jurisdiction of the Recovery School District (RSD); currently, 59 Type 5 charter schools are operating statewide.

"Research shows that in some cases - certainly not all - charter schools are better suited to meet the needs of at-risk students," Acting State Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler said. "Thus, as we attempt to improve the quality of Louisiana schools, it's crucial that our state's charter school culture and framework support effective charter school models.   Key to this task is Louisiana's commitment to strong charter school accountability, including an application process that is designed to ensure only high-quality charter schools operate in our state. We are pleased that so many high-quality organizations have opted to pursue these roles as charter providers in our state."

Specifically, a 2009 study by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) reveals, with the exception of year one, the growth demonstrated by charter school students in reading and math outpaces that of students in traditional schools across the state. Likewise, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has ranked Louisiana among the top 10 in the nation for its charter school laws.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools governed by their own boards of directors. And while charter schools are free from some of the regulations governing traditional public schools, charter schools are held accountable for student achievement and other results and are required to participate in the state's accountability system, abide by curriculum requirements, and ensure the qualifications of instructional staff.

Each year, BESE accepts applications from qualified nonprofit organizations to operate Type 2, Type 4, and Type 5 charter schools. The process provides educators, civic nonprofit boards, and other members of the community with the opportunity to start a new school or turn around failing schools, while responding to the specific needs of a particular community.

The Department received 35 Type 5 applications and five Type 2 applications. No Type 4 charter applications were submitted to the agency for approval. Of the 35 Type 5 applications, six were for alternative schools. LDOE is recommending the approval of two of these applications.

"Our goal is to attract excellent charter school operators who not only have the desire, but possess the ability to transform failing schools," Recovery School District Superintendent John White said. "Our students in low-performing schools deserve access to the same opportunities afforded to children in more successful schools. And we look forward to working with these charter operators to improve student outcomes."

 For approval of Type 5 applications, strong preference was given to applicants who:

  • Received a favorable recommendation by independent reviewers; and
  • Demonstrated a strong partnership between a recognized community-based organization affiliated with the school for which it applied (i.e., school alumni association, school PTO) and a charter operator with a demonstrated track record of success


The application process began in April, when LDOE released a Request for Applications to operate Type 2, 4, and 5 charter schools. Subsequent information sessions and webinars were conducted for applicants to inform them of important deadlines, application documents, and best practices surrounding finance, special education and governance.


The process calls for applicants to submit Letters of Intent, followed by Eligibility Documents, and finally full applications to LDOE. Department staff members conduct a preliminary qualification process prior to submitting the application documents to NACSA, which then selects a review team of local and national experts in areas such as curriculum, management, finance, and the management of urban charter schools to review and evaluate applications.


NACSA and LDOE are recommending approval of the following 18 charter school applications: 


Applicant Name

Type of Charter


Outreach Community Development Corporation

Type 2

St. Landry

Collegiate Academies

Type 5


The Future in Now Schools: New Orleans

Type 5


The Friends of King School

Type 5


KIPP New Orleans, Inc.

Type 5


Choice Foundation, A Non-Profit Corporation

Type 5


ReNEW - Reinventing Education

Type 5


ReNEW (Alternative High School)

Type 5


Rocketship Education Louisiana (8 applications)

Type 5


New Orleans College Preparatory Academies

Type 5


Crescent Leadership Academy (alternative high school)

Type 5



The specific schools these Type 5 applicants may operate have not been determined. Those decisions will be made in early spring 2012. However, in November, the RSD announced the following eight direct-run schools in New Orleans would be transformed to charter schools prior to the start of the 2012-2013 school year:


  • Abramson Science & Technology Charter (K-8 and 9-12), 5552 Read Blvd.
  • George W. Carver High, 3059 Higgins Blvd.
  • Walter L. Cohen High, 3520 Dryades St.
  • Joseph Craig Elementary, 1423 St. Philip St.
  • Dr. Charles Drew Elementary, 3819 St. Claude Ave.
  • Murray Henderson Elementary, 2701 Lawrence St.
  • John McDonogh High, 2426 Esplanade Ave.
  • L.B. Landry High, 1200 L.B. Landry Ave.
  • Sarah T. Reed High, 5316 Michoud Blvd.

Additional RSD schools eligible for a change in management will be identified at the December BESE meeting.


To access the charter school applications, as well as the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Evaluations for all 40 applicants, please click here.

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