Even the OMG! response is not strong enough for this report re-posted below from Barbara Leader's article in The Newsstar.
Our legislators who voted for this package of goods is foremost to blame!!! Recall efforts are ongoing. When the Joint Education Committees met last November to hear an updated but not yet updated report from LDOE on its legislative package, one of the Senators questioned - with tongue in cheek - "Who is going to be responsble if this thing fails?" He answered his own question - "WE ARE!" That's when they should have stopped, backed up and given Mr. White his walking papers. They saw it coming but they caved in to their BOSS Bobby Jindal anyway. www.recallbobbyjindal.com It's on the record in the video archives of the legislative web page. www.legis.la.gov
Schools believed approved for vouchers taken back by 'due process'
Prevailing Faith Christian Academy CEO Patsy R. Brown said Thursday she was surprised and a little confused to learn that the Monroe school’s approval to participate in the Department of Education’s scholarship program might only be a preliminary approval.
“I thought it was definitely final approval for 26 students,” she said. “I was confident that was what the state would allow the school to accept, but now I am in question if I will be able to accept that many.”
Brown is not the only administrator who thought her approval was final.
Other nonpublic school administrators across northeastern Louisiana say they weren’t aware there would be a review step that would follow the email that notified them of their acceptance to participate.
“I thought it said we were approved,” Northeast Louisiana Baptist School in West Monroe principal Anita Watson said. “I am not aware that any of it is pending.”
“I considered it to be full approval,” Learning Tech Quest in Monroe director Donna Underwood said. “But, it’s a new program. I’m certain there will be changes along the way.”
“I’m assuming that it is (final approval),” Old Bethel Christian Academy in Clarks spokeswoman Lynette Weeks said.
“When we got our first email, we considered it to be approval for the program,” Claiborne Christian Academy head of school Lee Taylor said.
Somewhere between the time that email went out and an appearance by Superintendent John White in front of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, it appears the process changed and steps were added.
By Thursday, the state’s website also had changed.
Last week, the list of accepted schools and schools participating in the program showed available seats. Thursday, it showed a new chart with “estimated seat availability” with an asterisk denoting “estimate based on school assessment of capacity; estimates are subject to further due diligence.”
The state’s initial notification of each school’s approval mentioned nothing about the approval being preliminary.
“Congratulations on being accepted into the Louisiana State Scholarship program,” the email sent to accepted schools reads. “We hope you are excited to be part of this program, and we look forward to working closely with you in service to the students of Louisiana.”
The email goes on to detail what it calls the “next steps in the process.”
-- Before May 22: You may immediately begin to market yourself to potential students.
-- Starting on May 22: Student applications will be made available to you and posted on the Louisiana Department of Education website on May 22
-- After June 29: The Department of Education will run the lottery process for all students in mid-July, schools will be notified of students who will receive offers to the school. “At that point, we are requesting that you reach out to these students, confirm their eligibility once again and enroll them as soon as possible.”
Senate and Governmental Affairs members believe reporting by The News-Star on a Ruston nonpublic school that was approved to accept 315 students it did not have the facilities to serve contributed to the change.
A Saturday article detailed the school’s method of teaching using DVD’s for instruction, its planned construction of a 12,000-square-foot building, and a tuition increase that would take the school to just below the state’s maximum allowable tuition.
“I would have to believe it came up after The News-Star article,” Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-West Monroe said.
Under heavy questioning by the committee on Wednesday, White announced the “due diligence” phase of the process, which he said would evaluate the facilities, technology and teachers and assess a school’s capability to handle the number of students it was approved to accept.
White told the Senate committee that notification of the next steps in the process were going out to schools Wednesday,
In an email headed “Department of Education announces phase 2 of scholarship enrollment process,” the department explains.
“It will include further due diligence conversations, public consideration of criteria for participation required in the law and an analysis of how families expressed a preference for each school by grade level. After these steps have been taken, final scholarship assignments will be made.”
Although Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at-large member Connie Bradford said she did not thoroughly read the requirements, she, too, believed the initial notifications were final approval.
Any additions to that, she said, “shows we can make changes and re-evaluate. We have to do our homework and make sure we are doing our due diligence and acting in the best interest of the children of the state.”