Louisiana Key Academy

Teachers at the Louisiana Key Academy in Baton Rouge use large pens to help dyslexic children develop their motor skills during a lesson in 2014.

Students learn with different types of approaches, especially when they have different types of abilities. That’s an important reason the Louisiana Key Academy wants to open a charter school for students with dyslexia in St. Tammany Parish. It would be the first charter school in the parish and the state's third charter school with a focus on dyslexia.

St. Tammany School Superintendent Frank Jabbia told the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that there is no need for such a school in his parish.

“I appreciate what Louisiana Key Academy does for students with dyslexia but in St. Tammany we address dyslexia across our district in all 55 schools, not just first through eighth” grades, he said.

Jabbia argued that his system is capable of providing a quality education to these students. But some parish parents who have children with dyslexia disagree. They think that a school with a more specific focus would be beneficial. Because Jabbia sent the matter to BESE, neither the superintendent nor the parish school board will decide. BESE will make the decision, and a third-party evaluator hired by the Louisiana Department of Education has recommended that the board approve the application.

Dyslexia school in Baton Rouge up for $1M prize for speedy return to in-person learning

BESE is scheduled to decide at a Jan. 18 meeting.

Our state has 147 charter schools, more than half of them in nearby Orleans Parish, according to Caroline Roemer, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools. In addition to Louisiana Key Academy, MAX Charter School in Thibodaux operates with a dyslexia focus, she said. Both are Type 2 charter schools, so they must serve students from anywhere in the state. If BESE approves, Louisiana Key Academy in St. Tammany Parish could welcome students for the 2022-2023 school year.

Certainly, there have been concerns about charter schools from supporters of traditional school systems and schools. But our state allows for creative approaches, and this seems like one worthy of granting approval. Charter schools must achieve success or their charters can be withdrawn. Parents with children who have dyslexia deserve a chance to see whether this option works for them.