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LAPCS Seeks to Intervene in Teachers’ Union Lawsuit; Save Funding for 33 Charters in Louisiana

The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) and seven Type 2 charter schools filed a petition in the 19th Judicial District Court of East Baton Rouge to intervene in and counter a lawsuit by the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) that could potentially strip 33 charter schools of their Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding and threaten their closure.

The petition, along with LAE’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop funding to Type 2 charter schools as early as November 15, 2014, will be heard Wednesday, October 29.

A second lawsuit, Iberville Parish School Board v. Louisiana State BESE and the State through DOE, is similar to the LAE filing but only challenges a smaller subset of Type 2 charters. Tomorrow, the Court will also decide whether the two suits should be consolidated into one.

Type 2 charter schools are authorized by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). Type 2 charters are open to students from throughout the state of Louisiana, not a single school district.

When parents and community members have petitioned their local school board to authorize a charter, known as a Type 1, and failed to receive that local approval, this application is then allowed by state law to go before BESE and seek state authorization and funding as a Type 2 charter.

“The suits filed against Type 2 charters by the unions and Iberville school system would limit school choice statewide, ending a parent’s right to decide what is best for their child’s education,” said LAPCS Director Caroline Roemer Shirley. “Charter schools are educating children and preparing them for their future. These lawsuits are nothing more than adults who have benefited from an educational monopoly fighting to keep an outdated education system at the expense of educational options, innovation and growth.”

Joining LAPCS in the petition are Community School for Apprenticeship Learning, Inc.; Lake Charles Charter Academy Foundation, Inc.; the International School of Louisiana; New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy, Inc.; the Delta Charter Group; Delhi Charter School; and Glencoe Education Foundation, Inc.

Filed last Friday, the LAPCS petition to intervene, if granted, would allow the Association and Type 2 charters to join the lawsuit in defense of funding for approximately 13,000 public charter school students at 33 Type 2 public charter schools across the state. LAE et al v. Louisiana State BESE and the State through DOE seeks to stop MFP funding to Type 2 charters as soon as November 15, 2014.

“The measures that the Plaintiffs will go through – namely, threatening the continued education of 13,000 public school children – is a testament to their priorities,” said Ms. Roemer Shirley. “This isn’t about education to them. This isn’t about children to them. This is all about money and control. And they’ll shut down public schools to get it. Our message is clear: Stop litigating; Start educating.”

Louisiana has been ranked by National Alliance of Public Charter Schools as having the second strongest charter movement in the nation, and the third strongest charter law because it provides multiple pathways to authorization of charter schools and full funding for charter schools. The reports also note that the state’s charter schools, as a whole, showed higher academic growth when compared to traditional public schools.