CLINTON — Voting along racial lines, the East Feliciana Parish School Board decided Tuesday to renew the charter for the parish’s top-rated school for three years, a term its supporters say is four years short of what is warranted.
The Slaughter Community Charter School, with grades seven through 12 and run by a separate school board, earned a B rating in 2015 with a school performance score of 96.9, the parish’s highest at three-tenths of a point above Slaughter Elementary’s score.
Facing a large contingent of Slaughter charter supporters, the board did not discuss the matter in public but elected to go behind closed doors under the guise of holding a “strategy session concerning pending litigation.”
The litigation is a 50-year-old federal desegregation lawsuit.
After about 20 minutes, the board emerged and immediately began voting on the charter school’s renewal.
A move to renew the contract for five years was thwarted by a substitute motion to renew it for three years, followed by an evaluation and a possible two-year extension.
The board’s black members — Derald Spears Sr., Melvin Hollins, board President Michael Ray Bradford, Richard Terrell, Rhonda Matthews, Joyce Kent and Broderick Brooks — voted for the three-year term.
The white members attending — J. Curtis Jelks, Paul Kent, Tim Corcoran and Beth Dawson — voted against the substitute motion. White member Mitch Harrell was absent.
Lee Reid, attorney for the charter school and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, said the board’s policy on charter schools calls for a seven-year contract renewal when the school earns a B under the state accountability program. Reid also said outside the meeting room that neither he nor charter board members received copies of a lengthy memo from Superintendent Carlos Sam concerning the parish’s review of the charter school’s operations.
The document was given to board members.