Einstein Charter Schools circumvented the city’s centralized enrollment system this fall by signing up students on its own, which the Orleans Parish School Board says violates its policies.
That undermines the integrity of the OneApp system, which is supposed to give all children in New Orleans an equal shot of getting into the public schools they want, enrollment director Gabriela Fighetti said.
“The promise of fairness and transparency with the system gets eroded” when schools enroll students who haven’t been assigned through OneApp, she said.
Between Sept. 7 and Oct. 2, Einstein enrolled 26 students at three of its four schools, according to a warning letter issued in early November by Dina Hasiotis, who oversees school performance for the Orleans Parish district. The same thing happened in the prior school year, according to another warning letter issued by EnrollNOLA, the office that oversees the OneApp.
District officials contend that enrolling students on campus undermines the citywide system and allows schools to cherry-pick students.
“When a family comes to a Family Resource Center, they are seeing all the open seats in the system,” Fighetti said. The system does not discriminate based on a family’s background, income or special-education requirements, she said.
“We can’t know, if schools are enrolling students on site, if they are being offered that same level of fairness,” she said.
In a letter to the school district, Einstein CEO Shawn Toranto said the charter network “did not deny students access to any of its schools.” The noncompliance notice from the school district, she wrote, “has been issued due to accepting students whose parents chose to attend Einstein.”