NEW ORLEANS – The governing board of Lusher Charter School voted Dec. 12 to drop a lawsuit against the Orleans Parish School Board – with one exception.
According to a report on www.wwltv.com, Lusher initiated a lawsuit along with Lake Forest Charter School in response to a school-funding formula approved by the school board they feel unfairly impacts the schools and violates the charter agreements.
The new formula, part of a unification plan between the Orleans Parish School Board and Recovery School District, outlines per-pupil tax distribution to schools. The budget plan, approved last spring, allocates more funding for special-needs and special-education students and less for gifted students. Lusher, a selective school, has a high proportion of gifted students and fewer special-needs students, according to an article on uptownmessenger.com. For this reason, the school will suffer a reduction in state funding under the new plan.
Lusher moved to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice in order to move forward, but keep the door open for future litigation in the event of a drastic reduction of budget under future funding formulas.
"We are trying to reach an agreement with the other parties (the school board and the intervening parents) toward a stipulation that would resolve the lawsuit pursuant to which we would not bring a future lawsuit unless the funding formula would change in a way that would reduce our funding more than one percent beneath what it currently is," James Brown, the attorney for Lusher and Lake Forest Charter Schools, told the Louisiana Record.
According to Brown, the intent of the stipulation is to send the message that a loss of funding greater than the proposed 1 percent would justifiably result in legal action.
"We're hopeful that this will signal our belief and intention that future changes to this funding formula that would reduce our changes by more than 1 percent would be unfair and not appropriate and would potentially justify a future lawsuit," he said.
Brown also expressed a desire on the part of the schools to cooperate and move forward amicably.
"If future changes were not anymore drastic than that we could hopefully avoid future litigation," he added. "Part of the intent here is to reach an agreement or stipulation that signals our desire to work constructively with the school board in the future and have some reconciliation and good relations going forward."
Act 91, which passed in May of this year, provides for the unification of public schools in Orleans Parish, including those governed by the Recovery School District, under the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board. The Recovery School District was created in 2003 to improve underperforming schools in the parish. Under the law, the school board can propose a new funding formula annually.
Brown has proposed the agreement and is awaiting approval of opposing council.
"We've proposed the stipulation and, hopefully, we'll get agreement of all three parties within a matter of days," he said.