A Lafayette Parish School Board member is questioning Lafayette’s involvement in a state partnership that involves the charter school authorization process.

“The board never ratified this partnership. I think it was something (Superintendent Pat) Cooper just did on his own,” Board Member Greg Awbrey alleged.

Through the partnership — which also includes East Baton Rouge and Jefferson Parishes — school districts utilize the Louisiana Department of Education’s charter application review procedure while ultimately retaining the right to grant final approval of applicants. It also allows charter applicants to apply to multiple districts participating in the program.

According to a Feb. 8 press release announcing the partnership, “this simultaneously leads to reduced costs for districts while ensuring a common, rigorous review process.”

In Louisiana, 104 charter schools are educating nearly 58,000 students, the release stated.

In Lafayette — where its school system improved this year from a “C” to a “B” rating — the school board is currently reviewing applications from Charter Schools USA and National Heritage Academies. Both aim to operate as Type 2 charters that would operate under the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Awbrey said he thinks Type 3 charters would better serve Lafayette Parish, as those operate under the local school board.

“If we have a Type 3 charter, then it allows us more latitude on the curriculum, and the type of operation of the school,” Awbrey said.

Awbrey also raised concerns about how charter schools will affect the budget, as they aren’t required to pay into the retirement system.

“If it’s something that’s going to cost the school system money, which a charter school definitely would — it would affect the budget — then the board needs to be involved with it,” he said.

Awbrey’s concerns will be discussed at the school board meeting tonight, and a workshop will be held Sept. 11 to further discuss the charter school applications.

To listen to School Board Member Greg Awbrey's interview on “Your Afternoon Drive Home,” CLICK BELOW: