The newly installed Jefferson Parish School Board plans to reconsider its predecessor’s endorsement of the Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy expansion. The charter school’s chief executive calls the move “confusing.”
In a committee meeting Monday, the board also plans to consider a 2015 membership in the state’s school board association. The committee meeting comes in advance of the board’s regularly scheduled Wednesday meeting, and committee decisions do not take effect without full board approval.
Last year, when business-backed members comprised a majority, the School Board last year voted to let the Kenner charter expand. It also voted in 2012 to pull out of the Louisiana School Boards Association, after questions were raised about the group’s finances and the group’s political action committee endorsed anti-reform candidates for the state’s top education board.
But the balance of power on the board shifted in the fall elections to candidates backed by the Jefferson Federation of Teachers, a labor union. One of these members, Cedric Floyd, now board president, vowed in December to bring the Kenner issue up again. He also pushed the board in October to rejoin the state association, saying members could benefit from the group’s professional development. Still, business-backed members voted that down.
Floyd said Friday he still has unanswered questions about Kenner Discovery’s expansion. Holding an open committee meeting will let all present debate the expansion informally, he said.
“You will find that this is the process that the board, under my presidency, will have: Items will be reviewed under committee prior to being reviewed by the full board,” he said.
A new vote on these issues could bring about a different outcome. Patty Glaser, Kenner Discovery’s head of school, said Friday the reconsideration of the school’s expansion is “confusing, at the very least.”
“We met with our parents, and they know that it was approved,” she said. She said she’s already begun looking for new staff to educate additional students, and for a second campus to house middle schoolers.
The approval let Kenner Discovery add high school grades and more seats for younger students. It came after months of tweaked recruiting efforts, as the charter school made what Superintendent James Meza Jr. called a “sincere effort” to enroll more minority and at-risk students. That was after Meza initially denied the expansion, seeking more diversity.
As for Floyd’s questions, Glaser said she’ll be present at both Monday’s and Wednesday’s meetings to answer them. She’s also invited Floyd and other members to the school.
Monday’s session begins at 5:30 p.m. with new board members receiving an overview of the school system’s organization and staff responsibilities. The committee meeting starts at 6:15 p.m. Both are at the School Board’s administration building in Harvey.