BATON ROUGE - Several school systems in the Baton Rouge region are speaking out against the possibility of a nonprofit having authority to approve charter schools.
New Schools for Baton Rouge, a local nonprofit, applied for authority to approve charter schools with the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. That item was on the December BESE meeting agenda but was pulled, according to East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools Superintendent Warren Drake.
"When the BESE board attempts to give away that authority to a nonprofit it takes away the voice of the people," he said. "The main reason that we're opposed to proposing this resolution is that we believe that BESE is the duly elected body to authorize charters, not giving their authority to someone else."
New Schools for Baton Rouge declined to do an interview but did say in an e-mail that "Given that there is not a local charter authorizer application going before BESE, NSBR will not be doing an interview on the topic." The nonprofit went on to say that it is "committed to ensuring access to an excellent public school for the 37,000 students currently lacking access to an A or B school by recruiting proven schools of any type."
Drake says he's glad the item is no longer on a meeting agenda, but he says school systems will continue to voice opposition.
"I think when BESE comes together this month and there's a new board down there I think they're going to look at that and go that really wasn't a smart thing to do," he said. "Why would we give our authority away to someone else to charter schools?"
So far, Ascension, Tangipahoa, East Feliciana and West Feliciana parish school boards have voted to oppose nonprofits having the authority to approve charter schools. East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parish school boards are expected to do so Thursday.