Why is the Orleans Parish School system targeting Einstein Charter Schools? Has Einstein met its obligation to provide free transportation to our students? Yes.

Are we academically successful schools? Yes, to the point where we are the first, and only, open admissions nonprofit charter school group in Orleans Parish to be approved to open a new school in another state with replication funded by the United States Department of Education. Are our 1400 student families happy with our charter school management? Yes. Parents sign the Einstein parents/student handbook at the start of every school year, translated in their own languages, agreeing to the school’s practices and procedures. This mission puts academic investment in each child first.

Einstein008.JPG

Einstein Charter Schools circumvented the city’s centralized enrollment system this fall by signing up students on its own, which the Orleans Parish School Board says violates its policies. Between Sept. 7 and Oct. 2, Einstein enrolled 26 students at three of its four schools, according to a warning letter issued in early November.

But lately, at least by the actions of a limited number of Orleans Parish school leaders, Einstein is targeted as one that does not abide by charter school law, and this is completely inaccurate. Ironically, the attacks which have been made on our school’s operation started the very day that our school group agreed to replicate its model in Arkansas. Einstein has proven successful in educating non-English speaking, urban students through a very focused academic program, which is why we were asked to replicate our model both in Louisiana and out-of-state. We are the only charter school in Louisiana given this honor. And we achieved this without a private Charter Management Organization, and without awarding private contracts to the politically influential.

Our school is built by local educators who care. We are focused on educating the African, Vietnamese, and Hispanic populations who have been largely forgotten in a remote part of the Michoud area. Einstein Charter School Group includes four separate school campuses in an area largely east of I-510, including two PK-5 schools, one middle, and one high school. Since Einstein’s occupation of the high school campus, the school is academically successful for the first time in history.

When Orleans Parish Public schools were largely unable to reopen after the 2005 storms and levee failures, we took charge of our children’s needs and quickly became one of the best performing public schools in our area. Undoubtedly, New Orleans East and other Orleans residents will recall that prior to Katrina, OPSB failed to provide schools where children could learn, and failed to administer and run the schools to facilitate achievement and educational success. Einstein has dramatically changed that dire paradigm. Einstein is a success story.

Orleans school district reprimands Einstein Charter Schools for enrolling students outside OneApp

Charters are by definition allowed to set their own educational missions as long as they provide academic accountability. Our school has chosen to put student classroom investment — especially language education and tutoring skills — above any other issue. Parents agree to this focus and every student benefits from it.

Shawn Toranto

CEO, Einstein Charter Schools

New Orleans