OPSB To Take Over Cypress Academy, Keep School Open One More Year

May 22, 2018

New Orleans charter school Cypress Academy may not close after all. On Tuesday afternoon, the Orleans Parish School Board announced it plans to take over operations at Cypress so the school can remain open for the 2018-2019 school year. The news follows parent outrage after Cypress gave parents three days notice the school would be closing at the end of this school year.

“This is an unfortunate situation for families that should have been avoided, but I am glad that the OPSB is stepping up to provide stability to current Cypress families by operating Cypress next year in their current building," OPSB board president John Brown, Sr. said in an emailed statement.

The district says it will operate Cypress Academy in the same building for the 2018-2019 school year only, and that all current Cypress Academy students will be guaranteed a seat. The district also says that families who want to switch schools will be given extra time to apply. The deadline for second-round OneApp enrollment applications is Friday, May 25. But families assigned to Cypress will have until June 1.

"After reviewing all available facts, we have concluded that it is best for OPSB to operate a school at the current facility for next year" - OPSB Superintendent Henderson Lewis

The district takeover is an apparent change from OPSB's previous support of Cypress Academy's decision to close and be aborbed into Lafayette Academy Extension at Paul Dunbar in Hollygrove. That school is operated by the Choice Foundation. Cypress Academy board chair Lance Query said in an interview Monday it was OPSB staff who put forward the partnership with the Choice Foundation. 

"I want to thank the board and the administrative leadership of the Choice Foundation for engaging in discussions to develop a potential partnership with Cypress Academy," OPSB Supertindent Henderson Lewis said in an emailed statement. "After reviewing all available facts, we have concluded that it is best for OPSB to operate a school at the current facility for next year.” 

The district did not say how the takeover will impact staffing decisions or instruction at the Cypress building for next year.  

Query said Cypress Academy had to close because it didn't have enough money to keep operating at current staffing levels. He said OPSB warned the school to cut costs earlier in the school year, but that the school was unsuccessful in doing so, and that expected private donations did not come through.

Cypress Academy told families on Sunday night, three days before summer break, that the school would not reopen in the fall. Families were shocked and said prior to the email, leaders gave them no indication the school was in danger of closing.