The Iberville Parish school board decided to sue the state when it learned of the state’s plan to divert a sizable portion of the district’s basic funding to a new, for-profit charter school.
“The Iberville Parish School Board decided Monday it would fight to retain more than $3.8 million in state funding by suing the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“The school district is seeking an injunction to stop BESE from funneling the state Minimum Foundation Program funding to a new charter school, which opened on Monday, until the matter can be heard in court.
“The board made the decision during its regular meeting Monday night at the recommendation of Superintendent Ed Cancienne, who previously called the opening of the Iberville Charter Academy “an intrusion on the school district’s rights and tax money.”
“Chief Financial Officer Jolain Landry said the Iberville Parish School System was set to receive more than $15.8 million in funding from the state’s Department of Education for the 2014-15 school year. But the district received notice over the summer that approximately $3.8 million of the money was instead being allocated to the Iberville Charter Academy, she said.”
Members of the local board were outraged by the raid on their Minimum Foundation Funding and suggested that it was inspired by campaign contributions:
““This parish shouldn’t have to suffer; to take our local dollars to support a private business and make a profit off of our kids in this parish, it’s not right,” board member Brian Willis said before voting Monday.
“Board member Nancy Broussard chided the Education Department for allowing the charter school to receive MFP funding based on enrollment projections instead of actual student counts. She also berated the department for giving charter schools more lax accountability standards compared to public schools.
“Board member Tom Delahaye called charter schools a hoax and theorized the state’s push to welcome charter schools into local districts was being driven by campaign contributions.
“Delahaye presented to the board a print-out from the state’s Ethics Administration Program website showing itemized campaign contributions from Charter Schools USA, the company managing the Iberville Charter Academy, to BESE members and Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“Charter Schools USA has given right at $25,000 in campaign contributions in the past three years,” he said. “This for-profit organization is giving them money to buy influence to set up a school in our parish and take advantage of our children — that’s what’s happening here.”
The Parish board voted 12-2 to sue the state. One of the two dissenters said she was not opposed to the suit but wanted other local boards to share the cost of litigation.