DFER-LA Releases Statement on Unopposed Orleans Parish School Board Candidates

DFER-LA will continue to collaborate with our local community to elect leaders and implement policies that ensure student success

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Following the end of the candidate-qualifying period for the upcoming election cycle, three candidates seeking seats on the Orleans Parish School Board became unopposed: Mr. John Brown, Sr. (District 1), Mrs. Sarah Usdin (District 3) and Mr. Ben Kleban (District 5). Eva Kemp, DFER-Louisiana State Director, released the following statement:

“DFER Louisiana is proud to support community and education leaders who champion high-quality public education options for every student in New Orleans and across Louisiana. With these three unopposed board members, we are surely on the right track to doing just that,” Kemp said. “We congratulate Mr. Brown, Mrs. Usdin and Mr. Kleban on their early victories and look forward to working closely with them over the next four years.”

John Brown, Sr., sought re-election this cycle after winning a special election in October 2015 to replace Ira Thomas as District 1’s school board representative. Mr. Brown is a former educator in the public school system and in fact, was twice named principal of the year. As a lifelong resident of New Orleans, Mr. Brown understands the unique challenges that students face across the city and recognizes the necessity of keeping education reforms rooted in the community.

Sarah Newell Usdin is the founder and past-CEO of New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), a nonprofit organization that directly launched/expanded charter schools, invested in recruitment/training for principals and teachers, and incubated quality support providers to serve schools citywide. In 1992, after teaching in Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship, she joined Teach for America and taught 5th grade for three years before becoming Teach for America’s Executive Director in Louisiana. She went on to serve as a partner with The New Teacher Project (TNTP), working to recruit, train, and certify thousands of high-quality public school teachers.

Ben Kleban is the founder and president of New Orleans College Prep (NOCP), a charter school network that serves over 1,500 students in grades PK-12 across four campuses, all located in and around Central City in New Orleans. In addition to his work and NOCP, Ben chairs the board of a new nonprofit, College Bridge New Orleans, which will launch in 2016-2017 to expand direct coaching services and micro-grant support aimed at improving the college graduation rate for low-income, first generation college students from across New Orleans.

“DFER-LA will continue to collaborate with our local community to elect leaders and implement policies that ensure student success. As part of this work, we will be paying close attention to the remaining districts that face an election in November. While we haven’t made any solid decisions on who we’ll be supporting, we look forward to endorsing strong and capable leaders who will bring New Orleans to the next phase of education excellence,” said Kemp.

“The remaining school board races are vital to the future of New Orleans public education. Graduation rates are up, dropout rates are down, and more students are making a college-going ACT score than ever before. Now is the time to come together as a community and preserve the gains we’ve made while making common sense policy decisions to further improve the education landscape for our students. We’ve come too far to turn back now.”

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Contact: Leslie Leavoy, leslie@dfer.org