The East Baton Rouge Parish's proposed policy for charter schools will get some tweaking over the next two weeks before it goes to the School Board for a vote on Aug. 15.

School Board members, meeting as a committee of the whole on Thursday, unanimously voted to send the policy, in its current form, to the board without a recommendation for approval.

Board member Mark Bellue made the motion, seconded by Board President Michael Gaudet, paving the way for more work to be done on the 49-page document.

"We'll leave it as unfinished business" for the time being, Bellue said Thursday.

The proposal has been worked on by a team of board members and staff for several months and addresses such areas as academic expectations, intervention processes for a struggling charter school and renewals of charter schools. If adopted, the policy would be the first written one for the school district on charter school applications.

For 20 years, the school system has followed state rules for charter schools. 

The portion of the proposed East Baton Rouge school system's policy that got the most discussion Thursday was its proposal to raise the bar for charter school letter grades higher than the grade required by the state.

Under the proposal, charter school applicants with schools already in operation elsewhere in Louisiana would need at least a C letter grade. The state allows a D letter grade. 

The proposed C letter grade would not apply to applicants with no track record or ones running charter schools in other states.

Also in the proposal, if a charter school has a C letter grade every year, but dips to a D in the last year of its contract, the school can still get a contract renewal. Contracts are for four years.

"You have to have a C level or higher for the majority of the contractual term, but it's going to be a rare occasion for a former D or F school" to reach that in its beginning years, Board Member Evelyn Ware-Jackson said.

Board Member Dadrius Lanus echoed that, saying, "Possibly no school would have hit the C mark. All of our (charter) schools struggle in the first one to five years."

Lanus said he'd like for the school system's proposed charter school policy to put in writing what the system's vision is for its charter schools.

He asked that the team working on the policy also consider requiring requests for proposals from charter school organizers, rather than simply applications.

Also, he said, "We should not be afraid to take corrective action, to work proactively" with struggling charter schools.

Of the 26 charter schools now authorized to operate in East Baton Rouge Parish for the new school year, 10 are under the authority of the parish school system. The remainder have been authorized by the state. 

Four more charter schools, under the authority of the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, have been approved to open in the 2020-21 school year. 

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