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School Board scheduled to address charter issue

RESERVE — The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board is scheduled to meet Thursday evening in Reserve.

One thing on the agenda is a discussion item updating the ongoing negotiation between the School Board and Louisiana Premier Charter School for possible opening in 2019-20.

A revised agenda sent to L’OBSERVATEUR at approximately 1:47 p.m. Tuesday includes an action item to remove from the table and vote on the site location request from Louisiana Premier Charter School to locate on the Riverside Academy footprint.

The item was discussed when the School Board met earlier this month and again five days later when representatives from the School Board and Louisiana Premier Charter gathered in front of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

During the meeting in Baton Rouge, Superintendent Kevin George said he wants the charter school to operate as a type 1 school in partnership with the public school district.

“We want that charter school within our district,” George said.

St. John Public Schools attorney Ty Manieri, who is representing the District in charter negotiations, said this month there is an executable contract in place that is presentable for vote.

The School Board approved an initial agreement last year with Louisiana Premier Charter, clearing the way for the charter school to attempt to open in St. John Parish.

Louisiana Premier Charter must still receive approval from a federal desegregation judge, the Department of Justice and finalize an operating agreement with the School Board.

Officials with the charter school have submitted a lease agreement to open on the Riverside Academy campus in Reserve.

Manieri told the state education board the public school district is trying to ensure the relationship with Riverside and Louisiana Premier doesn’t run afoul with state law about co-mingling public and private funds.

George expressed similar concerns: “The big thing about that is the school is on a private school campus. We have been unable to find anywhere else in this state that has a charter school and a private school on the same campus.”

Officials with Riverside and Louisiana Premier maintain the two institutions can operate independently of each other at the same location.

(Editor’s note: This is an updated story, revised since publishing in L’OBSERVATEUR, to include the new agenda item.)