The Algiers Charter School Association, a charter group formed in the months after Hurricane Katrina that was once the largest in the city, has named a new CEO to oversee its shrinking portfolio as it works to improve its schools' grades from the state.
ACSA board members unanimously voted last week to appoint Talé D. Lockett, a New Orleans native who began his teaching career in Baton Rouge, to the organization's top post.
He will replace former chief financial officer Stuart Gay, who has managed the network as interim CEO since July 2018.
Aaron Jackson, chairman of the board of trustees, said he was thankful to have found the best candidate to take the helm as members "diligently forge a new path toward success and academic excellence."
The Algiers Charter network was formed in 2005 by Orleans Parish School Board members and neighborhood representatives who "provided the first educational options for families returning to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina," according to its website.
In December 2005, the OPSB gave it six schools to operate: Martin-Behrman Elementary, Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary, William J. Fischer Elementary, Alice M. Harte Elementary, Edna Karr Secondary and O. Perry Walker Senior High.
Within two years it expanded to nine schools, becoming the largest charter group in the city.
By 2013, however, the network was facing turmoil, with high turnover rates among teachers and staff and a strained relationship with the Orleans Parish School Board.
That year, Alice Harte and Edna Karr were turned over to InspireNOLA, another charter group formed by a former principal who worked for Algiers Charter.
The board also got approval to merge the B-rated O. Perry Walker with L.B. Landry High School, an F-rated school that had a brand new facility, to form L.B Landry-O.P. Walker College and Career Preparatory High School.
This year, Algiers Charter closed William J. Fischer Accelerated Academy and McDonogh No. 32 Literacy Charter School due to low attendance and failing grades.
The latest closures leave the network with just two schools: Landry-Walker, which fell from a D to an F in 2018, and Martin Behrman Charter Academy of Creative Arts & Sciences, which earned a C for the past three years. In 2018, nearly 1,900 students attended the two schools.
Lockett graduated with a degree in counseling and a minor in special education from Southern University. He received a master’s degree in education administration from Prairie View A&M University and expects to graduate with a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Phoenix in December.
Lockett started as a co-teacher for kindergarten and first grade in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. He taught middle school and high school math and special education in Texas before becoming principal and then director of school support for a charter school system there.
He returned to Louisiana to work in leadership roles at charter networks in Baton Rouge before becoming principal of Lafayette Renaissance Charter Academy in Lafayette.
"As a product of the Orleans Parish school system, I’m happy to bring my educational expertise back to my hometown," Lockett said in a statement. "I am committed to working tirelessly to provide a quality education and world-class learning experiences to all of our Algiers Charter families.”