The Lens

Bill to create parole panel for people in prison on split-jury convictions on hold

A bill that would create a new parole process specifically meant to address the hundreds of people still in Louisiana prisons after being convicted by non-unanimous jury verdicts — which were legal in the state until 2019 — has hit a roadblock in the Louisiana House of Representatives, after amendments pushed by criminal justice reform and civil rights advocates were voted down on the house floor earlier this week.
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School Board hears more on enrollment decline

Applications to enroll in NOLA Public Schools district charter schools — including new students and those seeking transfers — dropped by nearly 30 percent between the 2019-2020 school year and the 2021-2022 school year, according to a report presented to the Orleans Public School Board on Thursday. While some of that can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the upcoming school year has seen a slight recovery, officials and experts believe the overall trend will be downward in the coming years, following a slow-down in the city’s population growth over the past decade, and a more recent decline in the past few years.
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School Board committee advances more lenient charter renewal proposal

Orleans Parish School Board members meeting as a committee on Tuesday advanced a NOLA Public Schools staff recommendation to amend the charter school renewal process to address schools that did not receive state-issued school performance scores while state standardized testing was on hold during the pandemic. The proposals would allow...

In the best interest of our children

As a family law professional with over 27 years of experience, one of my main objectives has always been to leave my clients and their children in a better position at the end of a case than they were in at the beginning. This objective has become increasingly more challenging to achieve as a growing number of families enter an already overburdened court system to dissolve relationships and settle conflict. I support the passage of Louisiana House Bill 272 as a first step in creating much-needed oversight and implementing more effective strategies that will reduce the impact of high conflict divorce and custody on both the parents and children trapped in a destructive cycle.

School cases rise again in final report

The NOLA Public Schools district is tracking 123 COVID-19 cases in staff and students, according to the district’s latest weekly report, which district officials have confirmed will be the final report of the school year. That represents the fifth straight week of an increase in cases, which falls in...

Government watchdogs probing $2B Katrina roadwork project as city faces federal deadline

In late 2015, the city of New Orleans and FEMA resolved years of haggling over how much federal relief the city should get to rebuild the sewage systems, water systems and roads damaged following Hurricane Katrina. The settlement allowed the city and the Sewerage and Water Board to launch a roughly $2 billion roadwork project, heralded by then-Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a dent in the city’s backlog of dilapidated and pothole-ridden streets.

The first lie wins

This Mother’s Day, I will not be with my children. I have not heard the voices of my 14-year-old son and his 12-year-old sister or seen their faces in many, many months. Even as my heart breaks, a phrase repeats in my head like a mantra: The first lie wins. We have been living in the family court system for five long years because of that first lie. Our case shows that when one parent weaponizes the family court system through manipulation and money, the children easily become a cruel form of currency. Access to them is given as a reward for exhibiting desired behaviors; and it is easily withheld as a punishment for perceived grievances.

Louisiana Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in case that could determine if hundreds with split-jury verdicts are entitled to new trials

The Louisiana Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear oral arguments in a 25-year-old murder case that could determine whether hundreds of people still locked up in Louisiana prisons on non-unanimous jury verdicts — two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that split verdicts are unconstitutional — are entitled to a new trial.

Louisiana legislator pushes bills benefiting the oil and gas industry — and her husband

This story was produced in partnership with Floodlight, the Louisiana Illuminator and The Guardian. Less than a week after a carbon dioxide pipeline operated by Denbury Resources burst in a rural Mississippi community — sending nearly 50 people to the hospital — Louisiana Republican Sen. Sharon Hewitt filed a bill drafted by Denbury into her own state’s legislature.

BESE falls one vote shy of passing graduation waiver

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education failed to approve a measure that would have temporarily waived a statewide requirement that high school students pass state standardized tests in order to graduate. Had it passed, this would have been the third year the requirement was waived. The state waived...

COVID cases more than double in NOLA Public Schools

The NOLA Public Schools district is tracking 112 staff and students COVID-19 cases this week, an increase from the previous week, more than double the 49 cases the district reported last week. Of the 112 cases, 91 are in students and 21 in staff across 24 campuses. Forty of those...