The leader of a nonprofit group seeking to open a new charter high school in Lafayette Parish said Thursday she plans to seek the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s approval to start the school after the Lafayette Parish School Board again rejected the group’s request.
The nonprofit group, Kingdom Builders Community Development Corporation, submitted an application to partner with the School Board to open a Type 1 charter high school in the parish that would be focused on career and technical education.
The School Board rejected the application in a 6-2 vote on Wednesday, and the nonprofit now plans to seek a Type 2 charter, which BESE has authority to issue on its own.
Only two School Board members — Mary Morrison and Elroy Broussard — voted in support of approving the nonprofit group’s application to start a charter school. Board member Tehmi Chassion abstained from voting on the application.
The vote followed a staff recommendation to reject the application based both on its own evaluation and one done by a third party.
The school — Kingdom Collegiate Academy of Excellence — would allow students to earn industry-based certifications in high-demand jobs in construction and manufacturing available in the Acadiana region, Aleashia Clarkston, CEO of the nonprofit group, told the board Wednesday.
“We will appeal to BESE because we see a high school diploma as a viable terminal credential for long-term success in the labor market,” Clarkston said Thursday in an email response to questions about how her organization plans to proceed.
“Kingdom Collegiate Academy of Excellence provides students with the skills and a mindset to succeed, attain economic self-sufficiency and make contributions to their communities.”
It’s not the first time the group has applied to open a school in the parish.
Following the School Board’s rejection last year, the group went to BESE, which denied its appeal to open as a Type 2 charter.
The denial was based on a third-party review of the application that cited concerns about the charter school’s board of trustees; the absence of a solid contingency plan for the first year of operations; lack of evidence of demand to justify enrollment projections; and questions about start-up funding.
During her presentation to the Lafayette board Wednesday, Clarkston said the nonprofit has addressed issues identified during BESE’s evaluation of last year’s application.
She told the board the school has approval of up to $880,000 in start-up funding.
It also has letters of intent to enroll from more than 280 parents.
Board member Erick Knezek said he supports charter schools but could not approve the application because of glaring issues within the application. Among them was the school’s goal of enrolling 90 percent free or reduced-price lunch students but planning to locate in the Youngsville area because of the area’s overcrowded schools.
“That isn’t the typical demographic you’d find in the Youngsville-Broussard area,” he said.
He also was critical of a pilot program outlined in the application for students to attend school on Saturdays, saying he didn’t think public dollars should be used to test out a program.
The School Board’s rejection of the application opened the door for the group to submit its application to BESE to operate as a Type 2 charter school.
Louisiana authorizes five different types of charter school classifications. Type 1 schools are a partnership between an independent group and a local school system, while Type 2 charters are authorized by BESE.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.