Orleans Parish School Board Partners with Alumni to Reinvigorate McDonogh 35

February 7, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – (Feb. 7, 2018) – Today, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) requested proposals for a community driven plan to reinvigorate McDonogh 35 Senior High School. The school will remain OPEN and PUBLIC. See FAQ below for more details.

“McDonogh 35 is one of New Orleans’ most remarkable schools and I am 100 percent committed to its future,” said Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “For over 100 years, McDonogh 35 graduates have helped lead this city. We need to continue to advance this legacy to ensure another 100 years of academic excellence and cultural pride with the Roneagle flying high over New Orleans.”

Prior to 1917, there was no public high school in New Orleans for African-American students. Those interested in pursuing an education beyond 8th grade had to attend one of the city’s three private secondary schools for African-American students. A group of concerned citizens came together and petitioned the OPSB to create what we now know as McDonogh 35 Senior High School. The school has since served as a center of academic excellence, resilience and triumph. An integral part of New Orleans educational, civic and cultural fabric.

“As one of the oldest public high schools for African American students in Louisiana, McDonogh 35 has a rich history and proud tradition,” said OPSB President John A. Brown, Sr. “After celebrating McDonogh 35’s centennial last year we are now planning for the next 100 years of excellence. With the action taking place today we are one step closer to ensuring that the future will be bright for our students, families and community.”

“This is about guaranteeing the legacy of instructional, academic and community excellence that McDonogh 35 has long been known for,” said OPSB Vice President Leslie Ellison. “I am proud to stand with Superintendent Lewis as we make this important initial step toward securing the future of this remarkable school.”

OPSB board member Sarah Usdin, who represents District 3 where McDonogh 35 is located, also championed the new direction for the school.

“We are committed to ensuring McDonogh 35 is a high-quality learning environment that honors this school’s proud history and secures its rightful place as a leader in New Orleans’ public education landscape for the next 100 years,” said Usdin.

Alumni and community leaders have expressed support for the Superintendent’s request to get proposals from the community.

In a statement, the McDonogh 35 Alumni Association said that representatives of the McDonogh 35 Alumni Association Board of Directors have worked closely with the Superintendent and the OPSB and are appreciative of the efforts to reengineer the legacy and excellence of McDonogh 35 Senior High School for students and their families.

“For so many people around New Orleans, the memories of McDonogh 35 are some of our best,” said alumnus and Councilmember Jared C. Brossett. “The school has a rich history of academic excellence and I’m encouraged to learn the school district is taking steps to plan for the future of 35. I thank Superintendent Lewis for his continued efforts to hear from the community and all of us proud Roneagles.”

McDonogh 35 alumnus Senator Wesley T. Bishop also noted the importance of role the school has played throughout the last 100 years.

“This is about continuing the legacy of excellence that has always been symbolized by McDonogh 35,” said Senator Bishop. “The Roneagle nation deserves the type of school where they can be proud to send their children.”

“A great future begins with a solid foundation,” said Pastor Debra B. Morton. “As an alumnus of McDonogh 35 and community leader, I am so glad to partner with Superintendent Lewis and the entire board on this important effort to ensure the future of McDonogh 35.”

“Seeing our young people thrive is one of the greatest joys in life,” said McDonogh 35 alumnus Dr. Calvin Mackie. “McDonogh 35 changed my life for the better. Now we should plan for the future so the next generation has even more opportunities than we did.”

“When someone in New Orleans asks where you went to school, they aren’t talking about college, they are talking about high school,” said McDonogh 35 alumnus and business leader Dwayne G. Bernal. “The mark of a great leader is someone who knows where they came from and where they are going. The work we are doing today will ensure the McDonogh 35 legacy is preserved and expanded for future generations of leaders.”

In the coming days the OPSB will continue to engage with members of the McDonogh 35 community along with families, students and staff at the school. For additional information or to provide feedback the public is encouraged to email mc35@opsb.us.



What is happening with McDonogh 35?

The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) has released two Requests For Proposals (RFPs). The first is a solicitation for an entity to manage the transition from McDonogh 35’s current OPSB direct-run status. The second RFP is a solicitation of prospective applicants for the long-term management of the school via a non-charter contract school status. The OPSB intends to complete all solicitation processes and present a full transition plan by the end of the spring.

Follow this link for the first RFP and this link for the second long-term RFP.

Will McDonogh 35 remain open and public?

Yes. Mc35 will remain OPEN and PUBLIC. The OPSB remains completely committed to McDonogh 35 and these RFPs will ensure the future operations and success of the school. Furthermore, this action is part of an ongoing citywide process. In recent years the district has undertaken a series of actions which have sought to responsibly transition its direct-run schools to sustainable, long-term operational statuses

What will be the impact on current students at McDonogh 35?

All current students will be able to remain at the school for the duration of their educational career. The OPSB intends to work with the selected operators to ensure there is no break in graduating classes, but will restrict new and transfer enrollment for the 2018-19 school year during the solicitation and transition planning process.

What will be the impact on current staff/employees?

Pending successful solicitation, it is anticipated that OPSB will not directly operate the school. Accordingly, no teaching or school-site based instructional positions will be available for employment through the district. Decisions regarding school-site staffing for the 2018-19 school year and beyond will be made by the selected operator(s). All current employees will be eligible to apply.

Why are there two RFPs being released?
It is the intention of the OPSB to engage two different organizations to manage the McDonogh 35 transition. The first organization will be the entity which will manage the transition from OPSB direct-run school and ensure all current students are appropriately served during the transition period. Meanwhile, the long-term entity will operate the school, starting with a 9th grade academy in 2019, growing to serve all HS grades via non-charter “contract”. 

Will McDonogh 35 be a charter school?

The district remains open to high-quality charter conversion proposals, but we have not received any. The OPSB has solicited Type 3 charter conversion applications for McDonogh 35 during each of the last three charter RFA cycles (Spring 2017, Fall 2017, and the current Spring 2018 processes). The solicitations being released this week are intended to broaden the set of prospective candidates to operate the school, to include providers of educational services in a non-charter school context.








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