The Monroe City School Board cannot be forced by court orders to re-open Excellence Academy and allow the charter school to operate for another year, an appeal court ruled recently.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport upheld an August 2017 ruling by Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Scott Leehy to deny Excellence Academy’s claim its charter was prematurely struck down.
In April 2017, the School Board closed Excellence Academy, which is operated by Tab-N-Action Inc., and the School Board based its decision on the recommendations of a consultant firm, TenSquare LLC. TenSquare’s report highlighted financial and organizational concerns.
Since its closure, the charter school has pursued litigation in state and federal courts. When the School Board first opened Excellence Academy, it agreed the school could operate for an initial four-year term and the charter “may be extended” to a maximum term of five years, after a review.
“This is precisely what occurred in this case,” stated the Second Circuit’s May 23 opinion.
Second Circuit Judge James “Jimbo” Stephens wrote the opinion on behalf of a three judge-panel also including Second Circuit Judge Shonda Stone and retired judge Jay McCallum, who served as an ad hoc judge.
“The school board considered the case of Excellence Academy not once but twice, both times relying on TenSquare’s recommendation and exercising its discretion not to extend the charter for a fifth year,” Stephens wrote. “Ultimately, Excellence Academy had a third bite at the apple with the trial court, which again rejected its argument. In fact, we find no error in the trial court’s determination that the MCSB operated within its discretion in not extending the school’s charter for the optional fifth year.”
Excellence Academy’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ultimately resulted in a second hearing before the School Board, after which board members voted against extending the school’s charter.