The superintendent of the New Orleans’ all-charter school district recommended the closure of two charter schools that received a grade of F, but parents and students turned out at the Orleans Parish School Board meeting to demand that the board override his decision and keep their schools open.

Students, parents and leaders of two Orleans Parish charter schools turned out by the dozens on Thursday night to protest Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr.’s decision to pull the school’s charters, prompting the president of the Orleans Parish School Board to say he’s considering a board vote on overriding the decision.

President John Brown said he was responding to the two schools’ request after Lewis confirmed his recommendation not to renew their charters because of failing grades.

The protests, which included emotional speeches by parents and students, and the response from Brown set up a potential clash between the superintendent of NOLA Public Schools, the new name of Orleans Parish’s all-charter school district, and the leader of the city’s school board…

If the board were to override Lewis’ decision not to renew the two charters, it would be the first time a board took that step since the city’s all-charter network of schools returned to local control.

More than 50 representatives from the schools showed up at Thursday’s board meeting to urge Lewis to reconsider. 

A ruling by five of the board’s seven members can overturn the superintendent’s decision.

In a private email to me, Lance Hill, an education activist in New Orleans, explained:

The subtext of this is that there a few charters that began early on that were controlled by black former OPSB teachers and administrators that were islands of local control (MLK in particular) in a white-dominated, outsider controlled charter system. These schools have struggled in part because they would not cherry-pick and force out  challenging students (Treme in particular) and have always been resented by the NSNO (New Schools for New Orleans) people.  They have also moved toward unionizing lately.  
But it is a good example of how some charters build their own constituencies, even if they are failing, because they are perceived as more locally and black controlled.  I imagine the school board will give them a pass just to avoid the conflict.