Caddo Parish “SKool” Board Could Learn Something from Jefferson Parish


Caddo citizens and particularly the “SKool” Board need to listen! Months of behind-the-scenes negotiations and Jefferson Parish school officials and the Jefferson Community School may have finally agreed on a contract amendment that would expand the mission of the charter school for at-risk students. The problem may be the group running the program!!

The School Board will vote on the amendment when it meets today at Bonnabel Magnet Academy High School in Kenner.

Jefferson Community now serves middle school students with severe behavior problems. Under the new agreement, Jefferson Community also would serve other types of at-risk students, including those who are “overaged or who speak English as second language.”

The school, which relies on referrals from principals, has been embroiled in controversy for the past year because of its low enrollment. While it can accommodate up to 125 students, it has had less than 20 students most of the year. With a $700,000 budget (That’s $35,000+ per student!), Superintendent James Meza said the school could not continue in its current state. How about rethinking how the program is managed??

Jefferson Community, the first charter school in Louisiana, is in the first year of its fourth five-year charter. The School Board renewed the charter in 2010, before Meza became superintendent and five new board members took office.

Meza, a strong proponent of charter schools, said the previous board should not have approved the charter without considering the changes the school system has undergone since the campus opened in 1996. For example, the school system is under a state-mandated corrective action plan that allows for expulsions only as a last resort. Rather than expel students, Meza said, the system is now using more in-school interventions and other alternative programs. (HINT: Follow the money!)

Is anyone in Caddo listening and do you understand the cost of INCARCERATING some of these at-risk students if education fails us and them?