Acting State Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler sent the following note to BESE members this afternoon indicating the new report of alleged sexual incidents as well as that the department's investigation will include Pelican's operation of Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter School, which is located in Baton Rouge.
"As I committed to you last Friday, I want to update you regarding the Department's investigation of Abramson Science & Technology Charter School. Through the course of our investigation, new information regarding several alleged sexual incidents, including rape, has been brought to my attention.
We have contacted the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), and we are working with law enforcement officials and other state agencies, including the state's Inspector General, to aggressively investigate this new information. This is yet another reason why BESE's decision to suspend the school pending the outcome of LDOE's investigation was the right thing to do.
With so many questions and allegations surrounding the Pelican Educational Foundation's operation of the Abramson charter school in New Orleans, we think it's appropriate to expand the investigation to include Kenilworth Science and Technology School, which is located in Baton Rouge and also operated by Pelican. We cannot afford to have a charter school operator in Louisiana that is putting our kids in a potentially unsafe and unstable learning environment.
Likewise, as I indicated to you on Friday, LDOE is undertaking a full investigation of the agency's processes to ensure the Department is effectively monitoring and responding when these issues surface. We intend to provide you and the public with a comprehensive report in the next 30 days. Recognizing the need for a new direction and leadership in the agency's Charter School program, the Department has also removed two employees.
There is clearly a great deal of unrest for students and families enrolled at Abramson, as they await your final decision, which will determine if Pelican is allowed to operate Abramson during the 2011-2012 school year. However I know you share my desire to protect first and foremost the safety and welfare of our students. A safe and secure environment is a non-negotiable requirement for any school we regulate. In the meantime, Recovery School District (RSD) Superintendent John White has launched an extensive outreach effort to support the families of students enrolled in Abramson, including two community meetings, which will be held tonight and Thursday evening at Sarah T. Reed. Our hope is that you will encourage families to attend these meetings or contact the RSD for additional information. "
(From DOE press release)
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