Students from Batiste Cultural Arts Academy,a charter school that will change names next week, play some of the new instruments they received thanks to a $25,000 donation from Fidelity Investments and the Fidelity FutureStage arts education program in 2010. (The Times-Picayune archive)PrintBy Danielle Dreilinger, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on May 23, 2013 at 5:06 PM, updated May 23, 2013 at 5:19 PMEmail
Batiste Cultural Arts Academy will change its name to ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy on Wednesday, the chief executive of the ReNEW charter school network said. ReNEW runs fiveNew Orleans charters in the Recovery School District.
Announcements had appeared on Facebook and several websites that the Irish Channel school not only was leaving the ReNEW network but also was moving to the campus of Coghill, a recently chartered elementary in Gentilly, with directions for people to call or email Paul Batiste, a member of the famed musician family, for information. But ReNew CEO Gary Robichaux on Thursday described the situation as a tussle over naming rights, saying Paul Batiste's attorney called about a month ago to demand $200,000 in exchange for the Batiste name.
Robichaux declined. "We can't use state taxpayers' dollars to honor someone on the side of a building," he said.
The ReNew network had in fact already received permission from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to change the school's name in an effort to unify names across the network, Robichaux said. The arts-integrated curriculum will remain the same, and Damon and David Batiste still work for ReNEW. Paul Batiste left ReNEW's employ around October 2012, Robichaux said.
David Batiste said he had retained a lawyer to challenge Paul for the rights to use the family name. Neither Paul Batiste nor the staff at Coghill immediately responded to requests for comment.