Rather than a one-year suspension of letter grades for the East Baton Rouge Parish School District, state officials plan to offer the district post-flood flexibility in how schools are evaluated when Louisiana's top school board meets Tuesday.
Under the recommendation of the state Department of Education, schools that suffered significant damages because of the flood of 2016 would have an option on how they are rated this year.
Those results would be based on 2015-16 scores or 2016-17 results, whichever are higher.
The policy is short of the waiver being sought by Warren Drake, superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.
Drake has asked state officials to give the more than 80 schools in his district a one-year break in the state's annual rating system, including school performance scores, growth labels or letter grades.
After weighing the idea for months, East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake on T…
He said last week that, aside from the 16 days that schools were closed, the impact of the flood lingered for months.
A committee of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is set to tackle the thorny topic Tuesday during a meeting set to start at 10:30 a.m.
Any plan approved by the committee is expected to win approval when the full board meets on Wednesday at 9 a.m.
The East Baton Rouge Parish school district carries a C rating.
Letter grades for schools statewide, which are based on the results of key tests, are set to be released in November.
The department's policy would apply to schools that temporarily relocated to another campus or received a displaced school or grade level from another campus as a result of the flood.
Under the plan, state Superintendent of Education John White would have the authority to offer other schools the choice of scores from two school years "in cases of extraordinary and abnormal displacement of teachers and students and hardship" that stemmed from the flood.
To do so, the scattering of students would have to "indisputably" have contributed to a drop in scores.
The state should put a moratorium on issuing letter grades for public schools and other acco…
In addition, schools would not be labeled as needing urgent assistance as a result of scores during the year of the flood but could emerge from that label if they showed gains.
BESE President Gary Jones, who lives in Alexandria, said Monday he does not like the concept of a one-year waiver on letter grades.
"I have to hear the whole justification before I make up my mind," said Jones, a former district superintendent himself. "I will withhold judgment."
Sixth District BESE member Kathy Edmonston, who lives in Gonzales, said Monday she is hopeful a compromise can be reached that is satisfactory to state and district officials.
"I don't have a problem waiving the whole thing," Edmonston said. "I don't think that will happen."
"I just think it was a bad deal," Edmonston said of the impact of the flood.
"But that is just me," Edmonston said. "Others are more honed in on accountability. I am honed in on the entire child."
East Baton Rouge Parish public schools were closed two days less than the 18 usually required for a waiver.
Edmonston praised Drake's decision to re-start classes.
"He did that because of the families that he serves in East Baton Rouge Parish," she said.
"It was much better for those children to be at school rather than wondering around in flood areas."