State Superintendent of Education John White said Friday his department will ask the Louisiana's top school board to approve four charter schools similar to those whose state funding is in jeopardy.
The fate of the schools, two in Baton Rouge, one in New Orleans and one in Lafayette, is up to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
A BESE committee, amid likely controversy, is set to consider the issue around 11:30 a.m. on Monday.
White made his comments shortly the latest twist in a court ruling that is threatening state aid for 32 charter schools and more than 16,000 students.
Payments to the schools are set to stop next week, White told reporters.
The charter schools under fire were approved by BESE.
But the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, in a lawsuit filed by the Louisiana Association of Educators and others, ruled 3-2 on Jan. 9 that it is unconstitutional for those schools to get money through the state's key public school funding source – the Minimum Foundation Program.
Louisiana's funding of certain types of charter schools hit a snag following a ruling Monday…
Charter school advocates hoped to delay the ruling – called a stay – during a hearing Friday before 19th Judicial District Court Judge Wilson Fields, of Baton Rouge.
Fields said he had no such authority, which officials said will stop state aid for the schools until and unless the 1st Circuit or state Supreme Court delays the ruling while broader legal arguments play out.
A teachers’ union filed a lawsuit Monday that contends the state is improperly spending $60 …
Late Friday night, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay in the case, which removes the threat of an immediate halt in state aid to the 32 charter schools.
White said there is no reason to delay action on the four charter schools despite the lawsuit. He noted that the case has gone on for about two years and there has always been an assumption that it will be resolved in the state Supreme Court.
"We can't wait on solutions for the neediest kids when there is litigation in motion," White said.
"We cannot wait to do what is right for children," he added. "We cannot wait for every bit of litigation to get resolved before what is best for children."
Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said Friday authorizing more charter schools is a risk, including for parents, until the state Supreme Court issues a final ruling on funding questions.
Charter schools are public schools run by non-governmental boards.
About 78,000 students are attending the 145 charter schools, and they dominate the public schools landscape in New Orleans.
Backers contend the schools offer students and families another option in a state that has been plagued by public school problems for generations.
Opponents say charters are a drain on traditional public schools, especially amid recurring state budget problems that have meant freezes in state aid or only modest gains since 2009.
White said the four schools that will be recommended for approval by the state Department of Education will enroll about 500 students initially in a state with about 720,000 public school students.
They are Baton Rouge University Preparatory Inc. and Collegiate Academies, both in Baton Rouge; Educators for Quality Alternatives in New Orleans and Jefferson Chamber Foundation Academy in Lafayette.
White said the schools can help students on the cusp of dropping out and minority students from low-income families.
Another 19 charter school applications were rejected by the department.
Caroline Roemer, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, said she backs department plans to expand the number of charter schools.
"I would tell BESE and everybody else don't stop," Roemer said. ""Kids, parents and teachers want more options in this state."
The department also plans to recommend a one-year extension for the Louisiana Key Academy in Baton Rouge, which serves students with dyslexia.
BESE delayed action on the F-rated school in December.
White said the department wants the school reviewed in the future using an alternative framework.