Panel appointed to craft path toward local control for New Orleans public schools _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Superintendent of Orleans Parish Public Schools Henderson Lewis, Jr., Ph.D. and Superintendent Louisiana Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard, center, shake hands with Orleans Parish School Board member John Brown, Sr., left, and smiles after a press conference at Andrew Wilson Charter School announcing the return of Orleans Parish schools to local control.

New Orleans education officials on Thursday announced the members of a committee that will help develop a plan to bring dozens of state-supervised charter schools under the watch of the Orleans Parish School Board.

It’s the next step in a landmark transition for the city’s schools, most of which have been governed by the state-run Recovery School District since Hurricane Katrina.

As spelled out in a bill approved recently by the state Legislature, a 13-member advisory committee — comprised of charter school leaders, education advocates and schools officials — will be responsible for ironing out the logistics involved in the transition.

Appointees will help OPSB draft plans to manage the city’s centralized enrollment process, expulsion hearing office and centers for students with truancy and mental health problems, all of which are now largely handled by the RSD.

A plan is due by Sept. 1, but the panel will continue to meet until all RSD schools have been transferred.

Appointees include many of those who were involved in the negotiations that produced the bill, legislation that is carefully crafted to protect the autonomy that charter schools have in managing day-to-day operations.

Aside from OPSB Superintendent Henderson Lewis, Jr. and RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard, eight charter school leaders, two education advocates and another OPSB official will help draft the plan.

The charter leaders are Firstline Schools CEO Jay Altman, Fannie C. Williams Charter School principal Kelly Batiste, Sophie B. Wright Charter School Director Sharon Clark, Friends of King CEO Doris Hicks, KIPP New Orleans Schools CEO Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise, InspireNOLA CEO Jamar McKneely, Warren Easton Charter High School CEO Alexina Medley and newly appointed Algiers Charter School Association CEO Rene Lewis-Carter.

The education advocates are Urban League of Greater New Orleans Executive Director Erika McConduit-Diggs and Orleans Public Education Network chief Deirdre Johnson Burel.

And finally, the OPSB administrator is Nicolette London, the agency’s executive director of federal programs and external grants.

“These individuals are all individuals who I have the utmost respect for,” Lewis said.

Dobard added that the members “are not people who will just say yes to anything, and they won’t say no to everything.”

They will ensure OPSB “has the right policies, the right organizational structures, and the right operational plans” to handle its newfound status as the largest charter school authorizer in Louisiana, he said.

Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.