BeauVer Christian Academy in DeRidder came under fire Wednesday after media reports outlined the school’s previous financial difficulties and the former director’s criminal records surfaced. (Karen Wink / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 2:52 PM
Two Southwest Louisiana schools are no longer eligible for the statewide voucher program, State Superintendent John White announced Tuesday.
BeauVer Christian Academy in DeRidder and Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake are not allowed to accept voucher students for the 2012-2013 school year, after the state Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education passed criteria for participation that the schools did not meet.
After taking heat for several controversial voucher schools around the state, White said in late June that all approvals were preliminary and that the department would release specific criteria for the schools. Voucher schools were not originally told of the additional regulations and approval.
The department released the first round of criteria for participating voucher schools July 11, and BESE approved the criteria yesterday.
Originally, the department said BeauVer was approved for 119 voucher students and Eternity Christian for 135.
The American Press began taking a closer look at the two schools in mid-June.
The newspaper went through fire marshal inspection reports regarding BeauVer Christian Academy dating back to April 2011.
The records showed that after inspection in June 2011, the school was not approved for occupancy. It was officially asked to cease occupancy in January 2012 due to safety issues and fire code violations.
Despite the order, BeauVer Christian Academy carried out the entire 2011-2012 school year and enrolled about 90 students in grades K-12.
A section of the new criteria for participation focuses on “Health, Safety and Welfare of Students.” It says participating schools “shall be in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations pertaining to the health, safety, and welfare of students for public or nonpublic schools, as applicable.”
White said no grace periods would be granted for schools to get their facilities up to code. As of July 12, BeauVer still had not passed inspection.
“Their school was in a poor condition based on a site visit and did not have space for new students if they were accepted. It had low parent demand and had, what we would call, a managerial responsibility condition as well,” White said.
The American Press discovered in mid-June that Eternity Christian Academy had never acquired a city occupational license, which is required to run a nonpublic school or business in Westlake.
The school is inside a church and only has two classrooms for students. The school’s population totaled 34 students for the 2011-2012 school year, but it had hoped to nearly quadruple its enrollment with the voucher program.
The lack of an occupational license meant that Eternity Christian was unable to build another structure needed to accommodate the influx of students because of zoning issues. Enrollment specifications of the new criteria — 125 percent of the previous year’s enrollment or 50 students more than the previous year, whichever is larger — also meant ECA could not accept the large number of students.
Eternity Christian also faced national scrutiny for its use of the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, which uses the Loch Ness monster as an argument against evolution in a biology textbook.
White said Eternity Christian had “low parent demand with fewer than 20 applications.”
“They too did not have the space for the students that were requested and did not have a permit for the facility or any facility that would house new students.
“Those are examples of how the rules were applied. For this year, they were declared not eligible to take new students. If those conditions change, those schools may take students in the end,” White said.
“It’s an example of those rules that BESE passed today being put to work.”
Four area schools were originally approved for the voucher program.
Our Lady’s School in Sulphur and St. Theodore’s Holy Family Catholic School in Moss Bluff will still participate in the program. Our Lady’s was awarded 10 seats, and St. Theodore’s was awarded 16.
About 90 percent of students in Calcasieu Parish who applied for vouchers were accepted.
Final numbers for participating students will be available in August.
Posted By: Charrissa Archield-Johnson On: 7/25/2012
Title: Thank you Jesus!
It's about time someone took a closer look at the people in charge of schools that are supoose to be educating our children.