The Recovery School District, the state agency that oversees most of New Orleans' public schools, is introducing a list of offenses that may result in expulsion from its campuses, acknowledging that some of its schools have been too quick to boot students for bad behavior.
It's one of a raft of new policies aimed at clarifying a range of issues for families.
The district is also putting out a more detailed list of procedures for student admissions and readmission after expulsion, as well as transfers. And it is more clearly outlining whether parents should take certain categories of complaints against their school to the school itself, to one of the district's parent centers or to the district central office.
District officials plan to host a pair of citywide parent meetings to explain the policy changes this Wednesday and on July 25.
But the expulsion policy is the most striking move, a nod to the skepticism that independent charter schools in New Orleans and around the country face about how welcoming they are of all students, particularly those whose behavior makes them a challenge to educate.
The policy is part of an evolution in thinking among state officials during the past year or so about the role of a central office in a district that has shifted power and responsibility to individual school operators. This year for the first time, the district ran one citywide enrollment process. It also announced that all expulsion hearings will go through the central office as well. For the first time, the RSD has made explicit which types of behavior can lead to expulsion.
"There's been enough anecdotal evidence that students are being expelled for minor offenses," Recovery School District chief Patrick Dobard said Monday. "We should always lean on the side of keeping kids in school."