The head organizer of a new career-oriented charter school withdrew a request Monday to take over the troubled Capitol High Academy as part of a deal that would have allowed it to set up shop on the high school campus.
“At this time, I’m withdrawing our request to form a partnership,” Nancy Roberts, executive director of the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators, told the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board.
In withdrawing the request, Career Academy will go forward with plans to locate at Brookstown Elementary, the location it had previously agreed to occupy.
With the Career Academy out of the picture, the state Department of Education — more specifically its Recovery School District — plans to operate Capitol High Academy, said Rene Greer, spokeswoman for the department.
The state will now have to select a principal, staff and faculty in time for the beginning of the 2011-12 school year in August.
Capitol High Academy has been in limbo for months.
In February, 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge severed its relationship with EdisonLearning, the for-profit company that ran the high school since 2008, when the low-performing school was taken from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.
After having no luck finding a new charter school management group to run the school, 100 Black Men’s board voted in May to return the school to the state.
Seeing an opportunity to get the school back and solve some of the school system’s space problems, East Baton Rouge Parish leaders tried unsuccessfully for months to regain control of the high school, which had 281 students as of Feb. 1.
Instead, in early June the RSD and Career Academy agreed in principle to let Career Academy locate at Capitol High Academy and take over the troubled high school in the process.
Career Academy, however, is not chartered by the state, but by the parish school system. Several parish School Board members were lukewarm to the school forming a partnership with the state.
After Monday night’s meeting, Roberts said she hadn’t counted on the level of resistance she faced from School Board members.
“I didn’t know the history of the RSD and all the issues there have been,” Roberts said.
School Board President Barbara Freiberg, who had opposed the idea of the Career Academy taking over Capitol High, said she hopes that talks will continue with the state Department of Education about whether Capitol High can return to some kind of local control.
“I think we will continue to work to see if there’s some way we can utilize Capitol’s facilities, and we will work in that direction,” Freiberg said.
The Louisiana Resource Center for Educators has had misgivings about Brookstown Elementary, which closed as an elementary school in May.
The Career Academy, set to open Aug. 10, has attracted only 81 students to the 200 available slots in ninth and 10th grades.
Roberts said some students have shied away because of the lack of facilities for some sports and extracurricular activities — facilities and offerings that Capitol High has.
In other board business Monday:
INTERIM DIRECTOR OF ELEMENTARY PROGRAMS SELECTED: The board promoted Darlene Brister to interim director of elementary programs, meaning she will be leaving Ryan Elementary.
Brister has been Ryan’s principal for 14 years and helped the school earn a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence honor last fall from the U.S. Department of Education.
Brister’s husband, Herman, is chief academic officer for the school system; her son, Herman Jr., is principal of McKinley Middle; and her daughter-in-law, Jessica, is principal of Park Elementary.
Superintendent John Dilworth assured the board that Darlene Brister will not oversee Ryan or Park elementary schools in her new job.
“There are a number of us who are very concerned about you leaving Ryan,” Freiberg told Darlene Brister. “I hope you will work with the superintendent to find someone who can fill your shoes.”