Sophie B. Wright Charter School filed a motion Monday, May 6, to move a case filed by one its students to federal court. The school’s attorney, Tracie Washington, filed notice as the student, her parents, lawyer and other supporters were set for a hearing at the Orleans Civil District Court. Lyric Fernandez, an 18-year-old senior, alleged in the April 26 complaint that the Uptown public charter school denied her due process when it determined its punishment for a senior prank. The school had suspended about 30 students for five days after a water fight injured a teacher and another student, according to a statement from the school. Sophie B. Wright administration officials also revoked their senior privileges, such as walking for graduation, senior prom and senior picnic.
Parents and community members are calling on Sophie B. Wright’s school board chair to call a special meeting to publicly address what they say is overly harsh punishment of senior students, an advocacy group announced. On April 5, about 30 students were given five-day suspensions from Sophie B. Wright Charter School on Napoleon Avenue after a senior prank water fight. The students also had their senior privileges revoked, including walking for graduation, senior prom, senior picnic and their last day of school. According to an April 8 statement from the school, students vandalized the school with water balloons, water guns, eggs, vinegar and mustard. Sophie B. Wright officials have said the prank resulted in injuries and could lead to legal action.
The long-sought dream of the Sophie B. Wright Charter School community of a gym on campus appeared one step closer to reality Thursday night during a meeting to review plans for its construction, but students and teachers will first have to spend the next two years in an unfamiliar campus in west Carrollton. “We are just keeping the big picture in mind,” said Sophie B. Wright principal Sharon Clark after the meeting. “We’re getting a state-of-the-art facility to educate the children of New Orleans, and it doesn’t get any better than that.” The Recovery School District will choose contractors for the $23.7 million project this spring, and construction will take 26 months, with the goal of the school returning to its home in the fall of 2015, officials said. When they return, classrooms will have been enlarged, hallways will be widened, termite damage will be repaired and wooden-floors restored, the school will be made handicapped-accessible and, in the biggest change, a modern full-court gym will be placed in the center of the campus.
Plans to renovate the Sophie B. Wright Charter School building will be discussed at a meeting next week, officials said. Advocates for a new school in west Carrollton were told last month by RSD officials that after Johnson Elementary closes this spring, Sophie B. Wright students will move into the Johnson building for two years. The Recovery School District has not publicly confirmed the move, however. The meeting about the renovation plans will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in the Sophie B. Wright auditorium, 1426 Napoleon Avenue.
A group of Carrollton residents say they were told this week by Recovery School District officials that Sophie B. Wright Charter School will be the first occupants of the James Weldon Johnson School swing space this fall, spending two years there while their Napoleon Avenue building is renovated. The residents were also told that cost estimates have been reached for renovations to the long-abandoned Priestley site in their own neighborhood, they say. RSD officials have not responded to requests to confirm accounts of the meetings this week. Betty DiMarco, a member of the Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association’s education committee, reported back to the association Thursday night that she attended the meeting with RSD officials Tuesday, and that they were told about plans to move Sophie B. Wright into the space left empty by Johnson’s closing for two years. Crime around the Johnson campus in a violent section of west Carrollton has long been a concern for both neighbors and school officials, and DiMarco said neighbors asked if high school students might be even more likely to get caught up in it than Johnson’s elementary kids were, but both RSD and police officials have ensured them that student safety will be a top priority.
The Krewe of Ancient Druids teased a number of other parade groups with its “Phobias” theme and the Mystic Krewe of Nyx reveled in cinematic takes on “What a Girl Wants” Wednesday night, as Carnival parading on the Uptown New Orleans route resumed after its week off. Krewe of Ancient Druids
Mystic Krewe of Nyx
To read our live coverage from the parade route, see below. Krewe of Ancient Druids, Krewe of Nyx live coverage
A parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. passed up the Central City boulevard named in his memory on Monday, with community and school groups from around New Orleans marching in support of his legacy.
As we in New Orleans grieve the tragedy unfolding today in Connecticut, please let us also bear in mind the joy that our own school children bring us — and our duty as a community to protect them. [Note: This article is composed of photos that have previously been published on UptownMessenger.com, and was compiled in consultation with several law-enforcement officers, educators and journalists who do not believe its publication places these children in any danger. As an additional step to protect their privacy, any names used in the original photo captions have been removed in this article.]
Several of KIPP’s Uptown schools — including KIPP Believe! College Prep on South Carrollton and its two schools in Central City — and Lafayette Academy are among the 13 Recovery School District schools eligible to return to the Orleans Parish School Board, based on the recently-announced School Performance Scores, officials said. KIPP Believe and KIPP Central City Academy (both middle schools) are both ranked ‘B’ schools, and KIPP Central City Primary received a high ‘D’ this year in its first year of testing, the results show. Lafayette Academy, meanwhile, rose from a ‘D’ to a ‘C’ for the first time this year after five straight years of steady growth. While those schools were expected to be eligible to return to OPSB, their leaders have raised questions about whether that will mean a loss of autonomy or even federal grant funding.