NOLA Schools OneApp Challenges

There are no neighborhood public schools in New Orleans which students can attend by-right, Karran Harper Royal told the Education Town Hall on July 31. And this year’s enrollment process left hundreds of families without a suitable placement after the first two rounds of “OneApp” assignments. She explained that 1500 families were still seeking appropriate school placements and described the scene as hundreds spent hours lined up in the heat on July 10.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (2005), most of the city’s public schools are now controlled by the state’s Recovery School District (RSD), and all but a handful are now operated as charter schools. For the last several years most of the RSD schools have been participating in a citywide “OneApp” enrollment process. The long line for a third round of assignments was attributed in some press reports to delay on the part of parents, Harper Royal says. But she found that families in line consisted of many newly re-arrived, having finally returned to town after Katrina, as well as those who had been assigned a school they never requested or assigned several different elementary schools for siblings. In addition, she said, reducing parent centers, where enrollment could be accomplished, from three down to one contributed to the problems.

And enrollment trouble is not the only challenge NOLA schools face, Harper Royal adds. The Recovery School District failed to manage the schools, they turned them over to charters, and the charter schools failed: Not one of the RSD charter schools has a state rating of “A,” and most are in the C-F range. “It’s only right that they give the schools back to the elected board.”

On the positive side: In the wake of the recent OneApp problems, the community is beginning to organize in a new way. NOLA PEA (Parents Educators and Advocates) is in the “infancy stage, but it’s hopeful.”

Listen to full discussion on track 4 below.

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