A new guide to Louisiana charter school law came out on Friday. It's geared toward a specific group: charter school board members.
The legal handbook is a joint publication from Louisiana Appleseed and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS). It lays out the basics for charter school board members — everything from general responsibilities to legal obligations.
Robert Garda is a professor at Loyola Law School and a board member at Bricolage Academy.
"What's interesting to me is that the state never made a guidebook. Ever," he says. "Which my understanding is other states do that to help out boards, to make enforcement really easy."
New Schools for New Orleans released a legal handbook back in 2007, but it hasn't been updated since. Christy Kane is Executive Director of Louisiana Appleseed. She says board members need a comprehensive, up-to-date resource.
"When people have questions at charter school board meetings, sometimes if they're legal questions everyone turns to the lawyer in the room," she says. "And the lawyer doesn't necessarily know the answer to the question."
Garda sees another advantage to handbook.
"I think you've got a lot of boards that felt like they were private entities with very little restrictions," he says. "And so just the fact that a document like this exists and is so thorough and so big sends a message, no matter what its content is, that there are a lot of rules that we are subject to."
LAPCS and Louisiana Appleseed will distribute 1500 hard copies of the handbook to charter schools across the state, and host trainings for lawyers to learn more. They plan to update the book as charter law changes.
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