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La. Lawmakers OK Bill to Return New Orleans Charters to Local Oversight

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New Orleans charter schools.jpgA bill to return the majority of New Orleans' charter schools to the oversight of the city's elected school board has passed the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Under the legislation, the schools will remain charters run by their own appointed boards, but the Orleans Parish School Board would have the authority to decide whether charter contracts are renewed or schools are shut down.

Last month, lawmakers in the Senate approved the bill which would transfer the 52 charters overseen by the state-run Recovery School District to the local school board no later than 2019.

Following Hurricane Katrina, the state took control of most of the city's schools from the Orleans Parish School Board, which was plagued by corruption scandals, and started closing schools or converting them into charters.

For more on how New Orleans' unorthodox education system works, check out Education Week's special series on the evolution of public schooling in New Orleans 10 years after Katrina.

Today, Recovery School District oversees 52 charter schools while the Orleans Parish School Board oversees six district schools and 18 charters. The RSD would continue to run other charter schools in the state. 

Both superintendents from the RSD and OPSB gave input on the bill, according to the Associated Press.

A recent poll by Tulane University in New Orleans found that 38 percent of registered voters supported shifting oversight of the schools to the OPSB by 2018, 13 percent indicated the switch should happen even later, while 32 percent said they preferred the status quo.

SB432 returns now to the Senate for lawmakers there to approve a minor change by their counterparts in the House before heading to Governor John Bel Edwards. Edwards has said he will sign the bill, according to the AP.

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Photo: The John McDonogh building has been transferred between multiple schools since Hurricane Katrina. Swikar Patel/Education Week.

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