Oct 11, 2013 6:12 PM by Chris Welty

Parents Rally to Block Charter Schools

Lafayette Parish parents are mobilizing to block two charter school operators from moving into the district.

The group is looking to "swamp BESE," rallying in Baton Rouge Tuesday at the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's committee meeting.

Last month, the Lafayette Parish School Board voted down two charter school applications, so the applicants are appealing to the BESE Board. SWAP BESE members say irregularities in the charter school application process are creating concerns.

Parents Ann Burruss and Kathleen Espinoza don't want charter schools moving into Lafayette Parish.

"They do not help us with the problems we have here, nor do they provide quality or innovation to enhance our good programs," said Burruss.

The SWAMP BESE group is questioning the application timeline for two charter companies and their performance records. They say National Heritage Academies Incorporated didn't disclose problems in two audits of schools they operate in New York. The audit claims National Heritage wasn't financially transparent. Espinoza says this information could affect BESE's decision. "The school board clearly made a decision on the merits of the applications themselves that this isn't the best path for Lafayette Parish public schools. I think the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education needs to respect that," said Espinoza.

BESE member Holly Boffy believes charter schools give parents more options.

"I think anytime you give parents more options, when you give kids academic opportunities and you increase the facilities available, I do think everyone involved wins," said Boffy.

SWAMP BESE is rallying in Baton Rouge Tuesday morning at 10:00. The parents have also launched the SWAP BESE-Protecting Lafayette Parish Public Schools Facebook Page and Twitter Feed.

Chris Welty



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