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Charter school fights for its future

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BATON ROUGE - Supports of a charter school in East Baton Rouge Parish are working to keep the school open amid a proposal to revoke its charter due to failing school performance scores.

Career Academy is unlike most traditional schools.  Students can earn a certification in things like welding, mechanics and culinary education. Supporters said students learn in different ways to either join the workforce or continue with post secondary education.

"My students are not F students," said Career Academy Principal Mandy LaCerte. "There's a lot to offer to the students, that's what we provide for them. It's a unique opportunity housed in one location."

Educators say the grading formula is not realistic when it comes to student achievements at Career Academy.  Its performance is ranked with more traditional schools, and does not perform to those standards.

Thursday, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board members will decide whether or not to shut the school down.

Board member Connie Bernard is among the group that wants the school to stay open, get another chance and hopefully show - with performance evaluations geared to these types of facilities - that Career Academy can succeed.

"I believe that what happens after graduation is more important than what a child's score is on a test one day in time," said Bernard.

Fellow board member Tarvald Smith said he's on the fence about the decision. But, is worried about keeping a non-performing charter school open.

"We have to do what's best for the kids, and if a school is not performing the way it should be, you have to reevaluate," said Smith.

Parents of students at Career Academy support the school and its mission.

"We want them to see that there's other things that this place has to offer," said Gerald Adams.

The school board will vote on Superintendent Bernard Taylor's request to revoke the Career Academy's charter contract Thursday.


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