The Erase The Board Coalition has announced that they intend to file a lawsuit against the state of Lousiana in order to overturn Act 91, which is responsible for the current charter-only school system in New Orleans.
The group is “a coalition of parents, educators, community members and concerned, tax-paying citizens” who liken themselves to the “proverbial village.” They are encouraging anyone who attended or any parent whose children attended an Orleans Parish School between 2005 and 2019 to sign up as a plaintiff. The deadline to sign up for the lawsuit is May 30.
“Charter schools get to cherry pick their students,” said one Erase The Board member in a Facebook post. “They have no desire to accommodate poor, black or brown children or children with special needs. It becomes an inconvenience to educate children by meeting their individual needs, and this model is not about putting children first. The landscape of charter schools in New Orleans, and across the country, has become solely about turning a profit; not educating children.”
According to Erase The Board, the implementation of the full charter school system in Orleans Parish is an illegal experiment carried out on New Orleans students without their parents’ permission.
The Orleans Parish School Board sent the following response to the Coalition’s criticism:
The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) is dedicated to the success of every New Orleans public school student. OPSB also remains committed to serving all students, families and schools.
We also continue to work with the community to ensure that every student receives a high-quality education that fosters his or her individual capabilities, while ensuring that they thrive and are prepared for civic, social, and economic success.”
“Erase the Board is literally suing to help OPSB win the ability to do their job and instead of joining us they are treating us like an enemy,” the group stated. “We are not the enemy to a board who actually want to do the job they are elected to do – which is directly run schools and provide all schools with the staff and resources that produce educated kids.”
In preparation for the lawsuit, the Coalition has sent out public records requests to every charter organization in New Orleans, most of which have been denied. The Choice Foundation’s Associate Director of Finance & Operations Tracey Smith sent the group a response saying, “public records must be made available to ‘any person of the age of majority who so requests.’ Since this request did not come from a person, Choice Foundation will not be providing the information requested.”
“We are not backing down and we will be taking legal action regarding this specific matter,” the group stated in a Facebook post. “Erase The Board Coalition is working (for FREE) to secure a quality public education for every child because we love children, it’s that simple. We don’t care whose toes we have to step on to make certain that happens. We don’t care whose friend you are, or if your auntie knows any of our grandmothers. Our children come FIRST.”
The current demands of the Erase The Board Coalition are listed as:
- An immediate moratorium on charter school expansion
- Halt all school closures – Orleans Parish School Board must permanently take over every failing school and implement school improvement plans using the sustainable community school model (Louisiana Legislature SR 133)
- Conduct a series of accountability audits, administered by Erase The Board in schools with a C score or lower
- Abolish the One App and develop a more centralized enrollment system prioritizing access to neighborhood schools.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her work has been featured in publications such as Yahoo News, The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare and others.