Jerry Baldwin, the north Louisiana minister making headlines for accepting 315 voucher students into a Ruston Christian school that has no classrooms and no computers, is also the former head coach of the UL Lafayette football team whose lawsuit against UL for wrongful termination and racial discrimination is still pending.
[Editor's Note: This story has been updated following a phone call to The Independent from state Superintendent of Education John White. White expressed his ire with The Ind for citing education reform critic Diane Ravitch's blog, which White says includes inaccurate enrollment numbers for Eternity Christian Academy in Lake Charles. White says the Calcasieu Parish Christian school's current pre-voucher enrollment is 38 students, not 14. The Independent regrets the error.]
The north Louisiana minister making headlines for trying to lure 315 voucher students into a Ruston Christian school with no classrooms and no computers is also the former head coach of the UL Lafayette football team whose lawsuit against UL for wrongful termination and racial discrimination is still pending.
According to a report from The Monroe News Star, the Rev. Jerry Baldwin is minister of New Living Word Ministries and dually serves as principal of the New Living Word School. When the state Department of Education recently released its list of private schools that have been approved to participate in the state’s new voucher program for public students to attend private schools, New World School had been approved for 315 students — accepting 100 more voucher students than any other private school in the state.
But when The News-Star paid a visit to the “school,” the newspaper discovered that “New Living Word did not have facilities, computers or teachers to accommodate the students the state approved them to accept:”
Meanwhile, plans are under way for a tuition increase, a summer construction project, hiring faculty, purchasing computers and constructing desks. The school, the principal said, is moving forward “on faith.”Speaking of opportunities, The News-Star reports that Baldwin’s “school” is slated to receive $2.7 million in public money if he meets maximum voucher enrollment.
“If you’re going to be successful, you’ve got to stop looking at the obstacles and look at the opportunities,” Baldwin said.
When White appeared in front of the committee on Wednesday, he said the approvals were preliminary and the department will now begin its “due diligence” process to ascertain if schools involved in the program could accommodate the number of students they said they would accept.And according to education historian and reform critic Diane Ravitch, New Living World isn’t the only school in the state taking a rather profitable leap of faith on voucher students. Ravitch erroneously reports on her blog that Eternity Christian Academy in Lake Charles has a current enrollment of 14 students and has agreed to accept 135 voucher students in exchange for roughly $1 million in state funds. But White points out that Ravitch's blog is inaccurate, as the Lake Charles Christian school's current pre-voucher enrollment stands at 38 students.
It is during that process that White said the department would learn about the school’s teacher capacity and certifications, tuition, fees and facilities and make necessary adjustments.
The review process, which White told the group had been in the works, was one that participating schools learned about on Wednesday.
Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe, said he believes the “due diligence” step is a recently added one. “I would have to believe it came up after the (News-Star) article,” Kostelka said. “You don’t have enough time to do due diligence for this school year.”
An email sent to schools from the Department of Education following approval to participate contained no mention of approvals being “preliminary” or of any further review.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Google vs. Amazon in drone race; more deaths in Syria; Russia escalates Ukraine conflict and more national and international news for Friday, August 29, 2014.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.