George: Public school district, charter support should work together

Published 12:02 am Saturday, August 13, 2016

The St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District, the community and other stakeholders are proud of our educational accomplishments.

While we acknowledge our successes, we realize there is more work to be done at all of our schools and as a district, collectively, and we are always looking for innovative ways to better serve our students.

A story in the Aug. 6 edition (of L’OBSERVATEUR) focused on the efforts of Louisiana Premier Charter to open a charter school in our parish.

In May, the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board denied the charter group’s application based on the recommendation of an independent third-party review.

The independent review found seven problems that lead it to recommend denial, namely:

• The applicant did not provide a clear plan for curriculum within the school, could not identify what curriculum would be used and could not provide a timeline for putting a curriculum in place.

• The applicant did not present a plan for providing special education services and was not aware of Act 833 (Louisiana legislation that provides a pathway to promotion and graduation for students with disabilities).

• The application was out of compliance with minimum seat time minutes required by the state.

• The applicant identified a STEM-based program utilizing several outside organizations but could not present a plan for implementing those programs or show how they would be used effectively.

• The applicant did not provide a plan to recruit the number of students necessary to open the school.

• The reviewer was unsure whether, if faced with a tough decision, board members are prepared to do what is necessary to protect the children they are serving.

The story in this newspaper indicated that the charter group now plans to go directly to the public and the state.

One of the questions I will be asked by the Louisiana Department of Education is whether our school district is willing to work with Louisiana Premier Charter on these discrepancies.

My answer to that will be a resounding yes. My mission since becoming superintendent has been to have the entire community work “As One” to serve the children of this parish, and I admire Louisiana Premier Charter’s bold initiative and desire to not accept the status quo.

Following the board’s vote I publicly invited Louisiana Premier Charter to meet with me and my staff to work on an application that could win the approval of the school board and the state. I later followed up with a letter reiterating my offer.

I support a quality Type I Charter School application and would like to once again extend an invitation to Louisiana Premier Charter officials to meet with me to see how we can accomplish our common goal, which is to serve the educational needs of all children in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Kevin George is superintendent of St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. He can be reached at 985-536-1106 or