Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 20171802
Honorable B. Scott Leehy, Judge
OF ANTHONY J. BRUSCATO By: Anthony J. Bruscato Counsel for
ROUNTREE LAW OFFICES By: James A. Rountree EDDIE M. CLARK
& ASSOCIATES, L.L.C. By: Eddie M. Clark THE LAWRENCE LAW
FIRM, L.L.C. By: L. Douglas Lawrence HAMMONDS, SILLS, ADKINS
& GUICE By: Jon K. Guice Justin N. Myers Tyrell T.
Manieri, III Counsel for Appellee
STONE, STEPHENS, and MCCALLUM, JJ.
Inc. d/b/a Excellence Academy appeals the judgment of the
Fourth Judicial District, Parish of Ouachita, State of
Louisiana, in favor of the Monroe City School Board. For the
following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.
Inc. d/b/a Excellence Academy ("Excellence
Academy") is a Louisiana nonprofit corporation with its
purpose to operate a type 1 charter school in the city of
Monroe, Louisiana. Type 1 charter schools, like Excellence
Academy, are authorized by a local school board, in this case
Monroe City School Board ("MCSB" or "school
board"). The MCSB and Excellence Academy entered into
the charter school operating agreement effective July 1,
2013, and Excellence Academy began operation in the 2013-14
school year, serving grades six through eight.
charter school statutes, La. R.S. 17:3992(A)(1) and La. R.S.
17:3998(B), dictate the procedure for extending, renewing, or
revoking a school's charter, and it was under that
statutory mandate the MCSB approached Excellence
Academy's charter extension. Due to delays in reporting
by the Louisiana Department of Education, the MCSB's
ability to perform its evaluation was delayed into the
2016-17 school year- Excellence Academy's fourth year of
operation. The MCSB sought proposals from independent,
third-party companies to perform the extension evaluation,
and the consulting firm TenSquare LLC ("TenSquare")
was chosen to conduct the review.
performed an extension review and in April 2017 submitted a
report to the MCSB recommending that Excellence Academy's
charter not be extended for a fifth year based on
unsatisfactory findings in the financial and organizational
areas. Thus, at the April 11, 2017, open meeting, the MCSB
voted against the extension of the school's charter in a
5-2 vote. Effectively, there would be no 2017-18 school year
for Excellence Academy.
Academy filed suit in federal court, seeking declaratory and
injunctive relief, which was granted in part and denied in
part. The federal court ordered the MCSB to refrain from
taking further action in the revocation of the charter until
Excellence Academy was allowed adequate opportunity to
contest the TenSquare report. The federal court ordered a
hearing be held for this purpose no later than June 7, 2017.
The hearing was held by the MCSB on June 6, 2017, and again
the board voted on whether to extend the school's charter
for a fifth year. The vote not to extend the school's
charter was 4-1-1.
Academy then filed a mandamus lawsuit in the Fourth Judicial
District Court, alleging that the MCSB had a duty to extend
the charter but disregarded that duty when it relied on
TenSquare's report. Further, Excellence Academy argued
that the school board was required to give Excellence Academy
notice of nonrenewal prior to January 31, 2017, which the
MCSB did not do. It sought the issuance of a writ of mandamus
ordering the MCSB to extend the school's charter for a
fifth year. In response, the MCSB filed various exceptions,
which it requested be considered prior to the merits of
Excellence Academy's petition.
July 27, 2017, hearing on the matter, the trial court
sustained the MCSB's (1) exception of improper cumulation
of actions, dismissing Excellence Academy's claim for
damages without prejudice; and, (2) exception of no cause of
action for mandamus, dismissing the petition with prejudice.
However, the trial court did allow Excellence Academy's
amendment to its petition asserting a claim for specific
performance by ordinary proceeding. Thus, Excellence Academy
immediately amended its petition, filing a second
supplemental and amended petition, making essentially the
same claims as in the petition for mandamus. At the same
hearing, Excellence Academy called several witnesses in
support of continuing the school's charter. Court was
recessed and reconvened on July 31, when additional witnesses
were called on the school's behalf.
conclusion of Excellence Academy's case, the MCSB filed
its motion for involuntary dismissal, which the trial court
took under advisement. Ultimately, the trial court granted
the motion finding that the MCSB acted within its discretion
and fulfilled its obligation under the charter contract and
Excellence Academy failed to establish its claims. A final