It’s Official: Gov. Edwards Signs Into Law the Bill Dissolving State-run RSD
Act 91 returns the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) to the districts from which they came. Of course, Act 91 chiefly affects the 54 charter schools currently comprising the RSD in New Orleans and the return of these schools to the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). (RSD Baton Rouge is comprised of an additional 9 charter schools, and there is apparently one RSD charter in Caddo Parish.)
According to Act 91, the transfer of schools back to districts begins effective May 12, 2016 (the date that the governor signed). The local superintendent of the district to which schools will return must submit a plan for the return of schools to the local school board by September 01, 2016. A 13-member advisory board comprised of the local superintendent, the RSD superintendent, and other stakeholders will meet at least quarterly until all schools have been returned to their local districts. All schools must be returned by July 01, 2019.
The charters to be returned can petition the local school board and state board for permission to act as their own independent school board (“local education agency,” or LEA). If approved, then the charter acting as its LEA will be overseen directly by the state. The state board is to establish administrative procedures so that the state superintendent has the authority to revoke a charter’s LEA authority and return it to the local school board.
The state board is to determine financial and other conditions that the LEA charters must meet in order to continue to receive public money.
Any charters (whether choosing to act as their own LEAs or not) will continue to have control over issues such as curriculum, school calendar and hiring-firing of teachers. However, it is now up to the state (for charters acting as their own LEAs) and the local district (for charters not acting as their own LEAs) to set fiscal and other conditions (i.e., “performance”) for the charter to continue to operate.
- Once there is no more RSD, the state will no longer have the conflict of interest of trying to promote the success of its own district. A state should not run its own district for this reason.
- The state will no longer be in a position to contract with Teach for America (TFA) for its own state-run schools.
- As it stands, with ACT 91, there is the possibility for a charter school that loses its charter to once again become a traditional, community school. Unless the state mandates that a charter revoked from a school acting as its own LEA be converted into another charter (which defies the goal of ending state control in favor of district control), then the conversion of failed charters back into traditional, board-run schools remains possible.
- OPSB will be the feature attraction of Act 91, and it will be the board to be purchased in future elections in order to maintain a charter stronghold in New Orleans.
We’ll see how this goes. The legislation it timely; enthusiasm for state-run RSD appears to have peaked with the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the “OPSB was so corrupt” cow is out of milk.
Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press: