School Board rep Rae Trahan swats back at The Ind.
By Heather Miller
August 8, 2012
Rae Trahan, the District 9 Lafayette Parish School Board rep featured on last week’s cover of The Independent, has clearly taken issue with “this little reporter” and the “misinformation” this paper published regarding Trahan’s poor attendance records, inaccessibility and indifference toward the needs of her district.
Trahan, speaking at the end of last week’s board meeting, spent almost nine minutes publicly refuting the data compiled in The Ind’s Aug. 1 “Absent-Minded,” an analysis that casts Trahan’s latest actions as a board member in an admittedly unfavorable light. Contrary to the half-dozen inaccurate statements Trahan made in her rant, the numbers cited in the story don’t lie.
As this newspaper reported, Trahan has the worst 2012 attendance record on the school board to date, missing 17 meetings so far this year. Keep in mind that attendance records compiled by The Independent take into account all scheduled meetings of the board, including special meetings, regular meetings, workshops, committee assignments, etc. Seven months into 2012, Trahan is only three absences away from matching the 20 absences she recorded in 2011.
She’s also the Youngsville representative who joined three other board members July 18 in voting against the funding mechanism that will allow much-needed new construction to begin at Youngsville’s severely over-crowded schools, despite a public plea from Youngsville Mayor Wilson Viator for the board’s support in addressing the critical problem in Trahan’s district.
“I did not vote against a measure to promote building in Youngsville. I voted against a measure that had absolutely no plan as to where the rest of the money would go, and for what projects, as well as the Youngsville projects that were mentioned yet not in a concrete plan that we could vote on,” Trahan now says of her decision.
She noted at last week’s meeting that she “is in constant contact with the mayor” of Youngsville, though Viator told The Independent for the story that he has had no communication with Trahan since her vote against progress for schools in Youngsville that are bursting at every seam.
The article on Trahan outlines at least a few more of her blunders of late, almost all of which she denied during Wednesday night’s board meeting.
In her rant, Trahan countered that as a local small business owner (Bella Beads in Youngsville), she cannot leave work for special meetings and board workshops that are scheduled during regular business hours.
“I have a business. I am, contrary to popular belief, not Walmart, not McDonald’s. I am a one-girl operation. When the one girl’s not there, business is closed. We can’t handle that. So the one girl has to remain,” she said. “Maybe you know this little reporter. ... I think her comment was she tried to reach me in every kind of way she could. One, she called my house numerous times and left messages. I don’t have an answering machine. OK. She called the shop. I was out of town. Guess I got the message when I got back, which was yesterday. I did get a message on my cell phone, one, today. I did return her phone call. But she was not answering her phone, and therefore I left a message on her phone and have not heard from her since.”
What Trahan failed to mention is that The Independent stopped by her bead shop in Youngsville — twice — before trying to call her at home, at her business and on her cell. As noted by Trahan, she was out of town last week and not at her bead shop. The “one-girl operation,” however, remained open and other women were seen running her store.
She also told the board that The Independent left voice messages on a home answering machine that doesn’t exist. But The Ind never claimed to have left messages on Trahan’s answering machine at home. We couldn’t. When a reporter called Trahan’s home phone both Friday morning and Friday afternoon on July 27, the following recording was waiting on the other end (it’s the same recording we heard when we called the morning of Aug. 2, a day after the story published):
“Hello, we are not available now. Please call again. Thank you for your call. [five short beeps] Memory full.”
Trahan said in her response that her attendance records are far less striking than what this paper reported — as long as you don’t count the workshops and special meetings for which she is rarely present.
“I don’t miss board meetings. I have missed I think two this year, not a huge deal as far as the numbers she was quoting in comparison,” Trahan said.
Actually, Rae, you’ve missed three.
As for her cell phone, Trahan maintains that she received a voice mail from The Independent Aug. 1 — five days after the newspaper called her cell phone — and immediately returned the call.
Indeed, Trahan did return the call the afternoon of Aug. 1. The phone from which she called, however, was listed as “Blocked” and the voice mail was from an “Unknown” source. She said in the voice mail that she was available on her cell phone. She left no call-back number.
The Independent tried for days to obtain Trahan’s cell phone number before calling her on July 27. At least two of her fellow school board members (both of whom were reached on their cell phones) do not have a cell number for Trahan. And when one school board member (also reached via cell phone) called central office for permission to release her cell number, central office told the board member that Trahan does not want the number released.
“I don’t think I’m that difficult to reach,” Trahan said during last Wednesday’s meeting.
The Independent called Trahan’s cell phone again the following morning. We couldn’t reach her.
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