Recently the Recovery School District (RSD) in New Orleans embarked upon a community engagement campaign. Meetings were scheduled in each of our 5 city council districts with the alleged purpose to get community input into building assignments. The RSD claimed to want our input as to which academic program/charter we wanted to occupy the buildings in our communities. I attended each of these meetings to observe and hear what the community wanted. When the meeting occurred in my district, I chose to speak up regarding the new Greater Gentilly High School.
Just prior to the beginning of the meeting, RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas approached me and asked if we could have a truce. It was clear to me that he didn’t want me to speak that night because he said that I was going to “get what I wanted.” He assumed that I wanted the plan to merge the Greater Gentilly High School with the Marshall Early College High School operated by the University of New Orleans’ Charter School Network. Unfortunately, when I approached Paul Vallas about this last year, he decided that the merger would not happen. Now that he has been negotiating with UNO without my input, he assumes that the deal on the table is “what I want.” I told him that I was forced to support a charter for this school because he did not keep his promise to our community to allow the decision making around this school to be driven by our Gentilly Community Steering Committee. I told Mr. Vallas that we could not have a truce and that I would be speaking at this meeting.
Since this video was recorded, I have now completely pulled my reluctant support from the planned merger of Greater Gentilly High School and the Marshall Early College High School. The UNO Charter School Network can not promise our community that it will keep the technology program that our community worked to establish at Greater Gentilly High School. This is yet another example of the fake community engagement that is occurring in New Orleans. There are several examples of “fake” community engagement here in New Orleans. I will share more of those examples over the next few weeks.