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New Orleans' Last Traditional Schools Could Become Charters

The principals of the last five remaining traditional public schools in New Orleans have applied to convert the schools into charters, according to the Lens, a news website.

If Orleans Parish Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. approves the application, New Orleans will become the country's first all-charter city.

The Lens reported that ExCEED Network, which was registered last week, has filed an application with the district to run the remaining five schools. The principal at one of the schools, McDonogh 35, confirmed that the leaders at the five schools were, in fact, the ExCEED Network.

According to the Lens, ExCEED was registered by Coleman Ridley Jr., who previously served on the board of Crescent City Schools, which runs three charter schools in the Recovery School District.

Last month, Lewis asked for applications from organizations to run the existing schools or create new charter schools.

So far, ExCEED is the only organization to submit an application, the Lens reported. District officials told the Times Picayune earlier this week that the district had received "some" letters of interest but did not identify who the letters were from.

About ninety-three percent of students in the city already attend charter schools.

The state took over the majority of the city's schools after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Those schools later became part of the Recovery School District, a state-run district created to oversee low-performing schools, and were later shuttered or converted into charter schools.

Education Week examined the transformation of public education in the city in its 2015 report, The Re-Education of New Orleans. 

Last year, state legislators approved a plan to reunify the two school systems—the RSD and the Orleans Parish school district—and put all of the city's schools under one school board by 2019.

The Orleans Parish superintendent will decide whether to approve the application to convert the existing schools to charters. While the school board will not vote on the application, ExCEED will have to show that it has support from parents and the community, the Times Picayune reported.  

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