Students protest ouster of principal, staff and teachers
by Allen Powell II
New Orleans bureau
October 07, 2012
New Orleans ó Angry at the second administrative shake-up at their school in two years, Walter L. Cohen Senior High School students stormed out of class on Friday and told Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard they wonít return until their principal and teachers do as well.
Juniors and seniors at the school were protesting Dobardís decision to fire Principal Gavin Lewis, much of his staff and four of the 12 teachers assigned to those grade levels. Cohenís 11th- and 12th-grade classes are operated by the RSD, but students in sixth through 10th grades attend a separate school within the same building called Cohen College Prep. That school is run by New Orleans College Prep, a charter school group.
Dobard plans to turn over management of Cohenís juniors and seniors to Future Is Now Schools, a national charter school organization partially backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The changeover is supposed to happen Oct. 15.
But students at the school Friday expressed little trust in Dobard or his policies. Several of them questioned how he could hire an entirely new staff for this school year and then fire them six weeks later. Students said they had built relationships with teachers and staff members, and now that process has to start all over again.