Lusher Charter School to be renamed The Willow School, board decides

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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — The board of trustees at Lusher Charter School, long one of the city’s top-rated public schools, voted on Saturday, April 23, to rename the program The Willow School.

The decision ends more than two years of sometimes contentious debates between administrators, teachers, parents, alumni and students over whether to unlink the school from its namesake – Robert Mills Lusher – or maintain the Uptown New Orleans School’s established identity and reputation for scholars. Excellency.

Robert Mills Lusher was a Confederate and segregationist official, and the school dropped the “Robert Mills” from its name in the 1970s. A further push to end the school’s association with Lusher’s surname began in 2020, after the Orleans Parish School Board decided to rename dozens of school buildings named after Confederate figures and former slave owners. This process included both Lusher’s elementary school campus at 7315 Willow St. and its middle/high school campus at 5624 Freret St.

The school’s board of trustees last November rejected a proposal that would have preserved the Lusher name by signifying that the school was honoring Dr. Jeanne Marie Lusher, a childhood cancer doctor who died in Michigan in 2016. opponents said the Lusher name had become toxic. in the community, while proponents claimed that changing the name would be costly, diminish the school’s academic reputation, and harm students applying to universities.

After months of input from community meetings, surveys, committees, study groups and an outside consulting firm, the council announced last week that it would consider four names when the Council of the arts-based education met Saturday at 9 a.m. The finalists were revealed as follows: Mosaic, Branch, Legacy and Lionheart.

But when the board met on Saturday, those four ‘finalists’ were also voted out, in favor of The Willow School, a spinoff of Willow Charter School, a name that had been proposed last November.

“Although none of the four names proposed by the (name change) committee were ultimately chosen, the process brought the board back to ‘Willow’, with today’s motion to pass” The Willow School “as the name of the program,” said AABE board chairman George. Wilson Jr. explained in an email to staff, parents and students. “Willow is important in our history because this campus is the foundation of our school’s curriculum. There would be no middle school or high school without the Willow campus.

Wilson thanked renaming committee chair Rachel Wisdom and committee members Brenda Bourne and Alysia Loshbaugh “for their tireless efforts,” and said the school administration would now move forward with “a group outside professional branding” to advance the branding and marketing aspects of the name change. .

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