Lusher Charter School
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|Lusher Charter School|
|7315 Willow Street
5624 Freret Street
New Orleans, Louisiana, LA 70115
|Type||Public Charter School|
|Motto||Celebrating cultural diversity through high academics and the arts.|
|School district||New Orleans Public Schools|
|Color(s)||Blue and Gold|
|Athletics conference||Louisiana High School Athletic Association|
Lusher Charter School is a K-12 charter school in uptown New Orleans, Louisiana, in the heart of the university area. Lusher is chartered by Advocates for Arts Based Education (AABE), which acts as the board for the entire school. Lusher School has three uptown campuses; the K-5 program is housed at the Willow Street campus, the middle and high schools are both located at the Fortier campus on Freret Street, and a temporary campus was housed at the Jewish Community Center on St. Charles Avenue.
Lusher was founded in 1917 and for its first few decades only taught grades K-6 at its Willow Street campus. Then, in 1990, Lusher moved its sixth grade class into the unused Carrollton Courthouse building at 719 South Carrollton Avenue; the school then expanded to include seventh and eighth grades while keeping the Willow Street campus for its K-5 program.
In 2003 however, the school began discussing the possibility of opening a high school. In 2005, the school applied to the Orleans Parish School Board to become a charter school and open a high school for the following school year but on April 11 of that year, the charter was denied. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina however, the school’s second attempt at gaining a charter was successful. Lusher Charter High School opened its doors for the first time on January 17, 2006 with 48 students and only 9th and 10th grades and six high school only teachers (one for each subject: math, science, social studies, English, French and Spanish). The high school was housed at the Carrollton Courthouse with the middle school for its first semester. Due to space limitations at the Carrollton campus, both the middle school and high school had to find a new home. In August 2006, both schools moved to their new campus, the defunct Alcee Fortier High School, on Freret Street.
Filming for Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant took place at Lusher's Fortier campus during spring 2008. In May, Lusher's first senior class of thirty-five students was offered over two million dollars in college scholarships and included three national merit winners and a semifinalist for a Presidential Scholarship in the Arts. In summer of 2009, the Brees Family Field was completed with the assistance of Drew and Brittany Brees and the Brees Dream Foundation.
The class of 2011 earned over $11.9 million in scholarship and merit awards. According to the Louisiana Department of Education's academic ratings, Lusher, K-12, was a 4 star high school from 2007-2009 and became a 5 star school (highest possible rating) in 2010. In fall, 2010, Lusher was rated an A+ school by the Louisiana Department of Education and is the highest performing K-12 school in the state of Louisiana.
As of December 2015 the school did not disclose the name of its admissions test. That month the Louisiana Attorney General ruled that the school must disclose the test's name. In Louisiana schools are not permitted to use IQ tests for admissions purposes.
- CEO/Head of School - Kathy Riedlinger
- Elementary School Principal - Sheila Nelson
- Middle School Principal - Charlene Hebert
- High School Principal - Wiley Ates
As of 2014[update] Kindergarten admissions is based on three levels: the first priority goes to siblings of students already admitted, the second priority goes to residents of the Lusher attendance zone, and the third goes equally to students testing into the school and to children of staff of Tulane University.
In 2013 there were 152 spaces for admission and 1,336 applicants for these spaces. In 2015 the kindergarten had 104 spaces, and it had 300 to 350 applicants. When the following were subtracted from the 104 spaces: the 25-35 zoned students, siblings of already admitted students, the 15 students with parents/guardians working for Tulane, and those who scored well on a kindergarten scorecard; only 15 spaces remained for "ordinary" applicants. In 2016 Dreilinger stated that due to the admissions requirements, "the average child, with no special status, has had very little chance of getting in."
As of 2016[update] Lusher was one of several New Orleans public schools that did not participate in OneApp, the common application system for New Orleans public schools. Dreilinger stated that Lusher's application procedure was "so complicated that parents have made spreadsheets to keep track of the steps". In 2015 the OPSB voted to require all charter schools to participate in OneApp.
In the post-Hurricane Katrina period, Lusher Charter retained its pre-Katrina attendance boundaries for elementary school students; no such boundary existed for its secondary school. This boundary included parts of Uptown New Orleans, including sections of East Carrollton, and all on-campus residences of Tulane University and Loyola University. In 2016 the kindergarten, which had 104 places, had 25 to 35 students who were zoned to Lusher.
The Greater New Orleans Collaborative of Charter Schools director, Ken Ducote, stated that this boundary may have been established after public schools in New Orleans were desegregated. The attendance boundary was preserved because parents and employees voted to make Lusher a charter school just prior to the hurricane's arrival. All of the other New Orleans schools lost their attendance boundaries after Katrina hit New Orleans. In the post-Katrina period the attendance area, previously economically mixed, became wealthier. In 2010 the board of Lusher Charter voted to extend the attendance boundary so that only Kindergarteners received automatic admissions based on their residences. In 2011 the CEO of Lusher, Kathy Riedlinger, criticized families who moved into Lusher's attendance zone specifically to gain admission for their children, arguing that the attendance zone was only meant to be used by longtime families already living in the area. At that time OPSB officials had discussed the possibility that the attendance zone could be discontinued.
In 2014 members of the Advancement Project filed a federal civil rights complaint that criticized several aspects of New Orleans school admissions, including Lusher Charter's attendance boundary; the group argued that the boundary was intended to inhibit the enrollment of African-Americans. The head of the Louisiana Department of Education, criticized the complaint, referring to it as a "joke". That year Lusher officials stated that the attendance boundary would remain.
On September 10, 2015 the Orleans Parish School Board voted to end Lusher's attendance boundary effective fall 2017.
The core value system of Lusher consists of a set of four rules known as the “Project Pride” which was conceived by CEO/Head of School Kathy Riedlinger and is used in all grades from kindergarten through 12th grade. "Project Pride" sets the tone for the special culture that exists in the Lusher community.
- Be Kind
- Be Responsible
- Respect People and Property
- Do Your Best Work
The Lusher Charter High School Student Government Association is organized by a constitution which has been written, ratified and revised by students since 2005. The preamble to the current constitution, ratified by the Student Body on May 5, 2008 states:
- "As active and concerned members of Lusher Charter High School and the Lusher community, for the purposes of giving equal and fair representation to the students at Lusher Charter High School, ensuring our continuation as active members in our community, promoting school spirit, securing the safety, trust and education of the students, providing a basis for academic and artistic achievement and keeping Lusher Charter School in good standing with other schools and the community, we do herby ordain and establish this document as the constitution for the Lusher Charter High School Student Government."
Student Council shall consist of:
- An elected Student Body President
- An elected Student Body Vice President;
- An elected Student Body Secretary;
- An elected Student Body Treasurer;
- Three elected Class Senators from each graduating class;
- The Class President of each graduating class; and
- The Class Vice President of each graduating class.
Lusher High School has many different clubs and other student organizations spanning a broad array of interests. As of September 2008 the high school has eighteen officially registered clubs.
List of Clubs
The current list of recognized and established clubs (as of August 2009) is listed below:
- Quiz Bowl Team
- Film Club
- KEY Club
- World Language and Culture Club
- French Club
- Urban Farming Club
- Lusher Post-Diluvian (student newspaper)
- Lusher Podcast Project
- Psychology Club
- Culinary Club
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes (F.C.A.)
- National Honor Society
- Spanish Honor Society
- Invisible Children 
- Chess Club
- Hispanic Club
- Debate Team
- Tech Club
- Race Alliance
- Duck Hunting Club
- "About Lusher Charter School." Lusher Charter School. Retrieved on August 3, 2012.
- Dreilinger, Danielle (2016-05-26). "Do the math: Here's how hard it was to get your child into Lusher". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- Lipinski, Jed. "Attorney general says Lusher must disclose admissions test name, website reports." The Times-Picayune. December 4, 2015. Updated December 7, 2015. Retrieved on December 18, 2015.
- Morris, Robert (2014-11-15). "Lusher Charter will maintain neighborhood admissions district for next school year, officials say". Uptown Messenger. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- Banchero, Stephanie (2013-09-29). "Inside the Nation's Biggest Experiment in School Choice". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2016-12-09. See version at (Archive) the Hourglass Foundation.
- Dreilinger, Danielle (2016-05-26). "How 3 top New Orleans public schools keep students out". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- Dreilinger, Danielle (2015-09-10). "Orleans charter policies level the field for families seeking top schools". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- Dreilinger, Danielle (2016-05-26). "Lusher loses attendance zone, cutting off some affluent kids". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- "In-District Addresses" (Archive). From Lusher Charter School, posted on the website of The Times-Picayune. Retrieved on December 9, 2016.
- Morris, Robert (2010-12-12). "Lusher retains neighborhood-based admissions — for now". Uptown Messenger. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- Morris, Robert (2011-03-20). "Lusher board frustrated by charter-renewal "unfairness" and admissions "abuse"". Uptown Messenger. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- Dreilinger, Danielle (2014-05-13). "Civil rights complaint alleges unequal treatment for New Orleans' black public school students". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
- Dreilinger, Danielle (2014-05-15). "John White: New Orleans charter civil rights complaint 'a joke'". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- "Lusher Charter School officials say no changes in admissions for 2015". The Times-Picayune. 2014-11-17. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
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