Political News

Top changes for agency that took over New Orleans schools

Posted March 16

— The state agency that took control of most New Orleans public schools after Hurricane Katrina is making changes at the top as the city school board prepares to reclaim local school governance.

Officials announced Thursday that the current Louisiana Recovery School District superintendent, Patrick Dobard, is leaving to take a job with a nonprofit group that supports New Orleans charter schools. Dobard served as superintendent for five years.

Taking over from Dobard will be Kunjan Narechania, who will have dual titles of superintendent of RSD and assistant state superintendent of education. She will oversee the transition of dozens of schools back to local governance in New Orleans, a task officials hope to complete next year and no later than 2019.

The RSD was created in 2003 to take over local public schools deemed failing under the state accountability system. After Katrina led to levee failures and catastrophic flooding that shut down the city in 2005, the state moved to place all but a handful of the city's schools under RSD governance. The Legislature voted last year to return the approximately 50 schools, all of which are now independently run charter schools, to local supervision.

The RSD maintains governance of Caddo Parish school and eight schools in Baton Rouge.

Also Thursday, Dana Peterson was named an assistant state superintendent. He also will serve as CEO of the state's Baton Rouge Achievement Zone, a system of more than a dozen public charter schools in Baton Rouge.

Dobard will this month become CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, a nonprofit that invests money to support public charter schools.

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