Louisiana’s top school board voted 7-1 on Wednesday to revoke the contract of a New Orleans charter school amid allegations of sexual abuse and other problems.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to immediately remove the charter from Pelican Educational Foundation, which also oversees Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School in Baton Rouge.
BESE took no action on Kenilworth, which is a middle school under investigation by the state Department of Education.
When that review will be completed is unclear.
The revocation applies to Abramson Science and Technology School, which has about 600 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Classes are set to resume next week under new management.
Ollie Tyler, acting state superintendent of education and other department officials recommended the revocation because they said the school failed to:
• Fully investigate alleged sexual behavior on the campus.
• Adequately supervise students.
• Report suspected child abuse to police or the state Department of Children & Family Services.
• Properly document allegations involving the health and safety of students.
Dana Gilmore, who told BESE she is the mother of a 5-year-old involved in one of the alleged incidents, said she learned of one such episode through the news media and removed her child after a second incident came to her attention.
“I believe they put my child and other children in harm’s way,” Gilmore said of school officials.
Charter schools are publicly funded, overseen by independent boards and are supposed to offer innovative education methods.
Louisiana has 88 such schools that are used by about 35,000 students, which is 5 percent of the state’s public school enrollment.
Several members of the Pelican board of directors urged BESE not to revoke the contract.
Tevfik Kosar, a board member and former president of the panel, said charges against the school “are not based on actual facts but on some allegations that are not true.”
Brandon Theodore said he is a recent Abramson graduate.
“If the school wasn’t safe I wouldn’t have stayed there for four years,” Theodore said.
BESE President Penny Dastugue said after the vote that Abramson will be run by the Recovery School District, which oversees troubled schools.
The board’s action also faces a state court challenge in the 19th Judicial District in Baton Rouge. A hearing is set Aug. 11.
The only “no” vote on the revocation was cast by Louella Givens of New Orleans.
BESE members Chas Roemer, Walter Lee and Dale Bayard missed the vote.