Our series "Closing Costs" follows three New Orleans schools who lost their charters.
At Lagniappe Academies, some administrators tried to hide a lack of services for students with disabilities. The state and Recovery School District chose to close the school, which is a cluster of mobile classrooms in Tremé, rather than find a new operator.
The last day starts off in the cafeteria. Students perform the school chants and cheers one last time.
Pop songs alternate with the chants. Students dance, some with carefully choreographed dance routines.
Wilson parents Dana Wade and Miesha Jackson pose in front of the bumper cars at InspireNOLA Family Night. They want to make sure Wilson's new operator won't treat the school, or the students, like failures.
The school year is winding down, and for three New Orleans charters, the last day will bring dramatic changes. Two of those schools are closing for good. The third – kindergarten through 8th grade school Andrew H. Wilson Charter – is getting a new operator.
The story of Wilson's future is the first in WWNO's series Closing Costs.
Wilson's contract was up for review this year. The school had to earn a D to get renewed. It missed the grade by less than one point.
What if you had to start your school system over almost from scratch? What if most of the buildings were unusable, and most of the teachers had left or been fired? Is that a nightmare, or your dream come true?
In New Orleans, that was the reality after the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. That set off a chain reaction that transformed the city's schools forever, first by a state takeover and then by the most extensive charter school system in the country.
The New Orleans education system has changed dramatically in the almost ten years since Hurricane Katrina. NPR's Michel Martin is in town for a live event looking at those changes. It's part of her Going There series, where she hosts conversations about local topics with national significance.
Martin recently spoke about the event with WWNO Education Reporter Mallory Falk. She started by explaining why she chose to focus on education in New Orleans.
New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, or NOCCA, has long been known as a leading arts education program. But the staff there began to notice a trend. Students came to NOCCA from schools all over the city and had dramatically different experiences.
"And there were a lot of sad moments at the end of somebody's senior year where they'd be given a scholarship based on their art, or get into a school based on their arts audition, and then not be able to accept it because they weren't admitted academically," says Dr. Kate Kokontis.
Last month Henderson Lewis Jr. took the helm as superintendent of the Orleans Parish School Board. Today he laid out his plan for his first six months — and his vision for the future.
Henderson Lewis Jr. has a clear vision: "To reunite the school district," he says. "Right now we have a fragmented school system. We have some schools that are part of the Orleans Parish School Board. We have other schools that are part of the Recovery School District."