School superintendent recommends Inspire NOLA to operate McDonogh 35
After an intensive year of community meetings, Orleans Parish School Board Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. will recommend Inspire NOLA, one of the highest academic performing charter operators in the school district, to manage McDonogh 35 Senior High School.
Lewis will make his recommendation to the OPSB Thursday, Dec. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the regular board business meeting.
“As a district team, we have met multiple times with families, alumni, business and community leaders, as well as elected officials who graduated from the school,” Lewis said. “As one of our community’s most loved and historic high schools, I make this decision with students and the future of New Orleans first public high school for African-Americans at the forefront.”
Once a public magnet school, McDonogh 35 High School has dropped in its academic ranking since 2005.
“My goal is to bring McDonogh 35 back into its premier position as an academically successful, first-tier high school and this is the best step forward,” Lewis said. “There is a high bar set for McDonogh 35 and we will meet it.”
Inspire NOLA operates five charter schools in New Orleans and has a consistent record of operating high academic performing high schools in New Orleans, specifically Edna Karr and McMain, according to the Louisiana Department of Education’s rankings. Additionally, Inspire NOLA allows its hired educators to stay in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana.
“Our administration met extensively with all stakeholders and patiently reviewed several proposals, but in the end, as superintendent, my job is simple: To foster the best for our children and their academic success. Inspire NOLA’s high academic standing and their ability to replicate their successful legacy high school model with strong community engagement and support has made them the best choice for the children who are, and will be, attending this school,” Lewis said.
Lewis said he will encourage McDonogh 35 alumni to continue to volunteer and actively shape and support the future direction and mission of the school.
“Every public charter school is a reflection of the shared mission and vision of its leadership, teachers, students, parents, alumni and community,” stressed Lewis. “I value the commitment to this school and encourage all who want to help propel our students and community forward to do so. We are moving ahead with promise.”
McDonogh 35 has a proud history as New Orleans’ first public high school for African-American students. From 1917 to 1942, when L.B. Landry and Booker T. Washington opened, it was the only secondary school serving African-Americans in the city’s segregated public school system.
During the 1992-93 school year, McDonogh 35 was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. By April 13, 2006, McDonogh 35 was one of six public high schools that had reopened since Katrina.
Over the years, the school, which started in Treme neighborhood, has changed location four times. The current facility opened for 2015-16 school year located at 4000 Cadillac St., the former Phillips/Waters school site.