Monday, October 8, 2012

Students at Walter L. Cohen High School Walk Out to Protest Firings of Teachers

From a press release from students and their allies at Walter L. Cohen High School:

See below for the students' demands - written by the students on October 7, and revised by the students on October 10.

See video from protest at Recovery School District offices here.

Students at Walter L. Cohen in New Orleans began a walk out/protest on October 4th, 2012 when their teachers and administrators were dismissed and the announcement was made that Future Is Now Charter (Steven Barr, formerly of Green Dot in California, and Gideon Stein) would be taking over the governance of the school.

This is against the firing of Cohen teachers and administration and the take-over by Future is Now (FIN) charter. Decisions about the governance of the school, including New Orleans College Prep being housed in Cohen's building, must be reversed and remade to include students and parents of Cohen. Cohen students and parents must be made a part of all decisions about Cohen.

Press Conference
Monday, October 8, 3:00pm
Walter L. Cohen High School
3520 Dryades Street, New Orleans, LA
Contact:  Elizabeth Jeffers at 504.237.3741 or Katrena Ndang at 504.701.8783

Official Demands Written by Walter L. Cohen Students on October 7, 2012 (edited to reflect changes made on October 10):

1. Resources and Building repair for Walter L. Cohen High School.
- Photos of building providing evidence of different conditions between NOCPREP and Cohen

2. Graduate Exit Exam (GEE) and End of Course (EOC) waivers given caused by disruption learning.
Students must not be penalized for missing seat time until our demands are met.

3. Students cannot be bought and sold. This situation is very frustrating and opinions should have
been considered, and not done behind closed doors. Walter L. Cohen students and parents
demand real “CHOICE” to determine the governance of the school. Any previous decisions made
determining the governance of Cohen should be reversed and required to go through parent/
student/teacher/administrator committee. If the decision is to return the school to Walter L.
Cohen under Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), New Orleans College Prep students will be
welcome. All current students graduate from Walter L. Cohen.

4. This type of hostile take-over did not just begin with Cohen; it has been going on since the weeks after Hurricane Katrina.

5. The Recovery School District (RSD), Future is Now Schools (FINS), and New Orleans College Prep Charter School (NOCP) do not have our best interests at heart. These administrators have their
educations, and yet when we are so close to completing high school, they decide to make this
unexpected decision.

6. ALL Teachers, administration and faculty must be retained. Any faculty member from school
year 2012-2013 fired must be reinstated. We need written documentation demonstrating why
any faculty members were dismissed. We need written documentation of any reprimands of
faculty members. In the future, if a faculty member is to be dismissed, written documentation
and a plan must be created and followed.
ALL teachers and administrators must be fully certified by the state of Louisiana (which
must be documented online at Out of State Certifications are

7. Data from New Orleans College Prep, Cohen, and Future is Now Schools must be made available concerning the following information:
- Student testing history
- Suspension / expulsion data
- Police reports
- Attrition rates for students and teachers
- Graduation rate data
- Post-secondary data (admission statistics for graduated seniors)

We, the students of Walter L. Cohen Senior High School, need the RSD, FINS, and NOCP to listen to us. This is a crisis, and everyone should listen. This is real, and it is happening to us right now.

New Orleans cannot be a city with all charter schools. Charter schools do not admit or keep all students.

No unnecessary suspensions and expulsions for students in New Orleans. We need official handbook with policies concerning retention of students developed by parents, students and teachers citywide.

Image above: A handwritten list of demands by Cohen students posted to the school wall Monday afternoon. (Robert Morris,

No comments: