A discussion of the proposed expansion of Lafayette Parish’s Language Immersion Program was news to several out-of-the-loop school board members who voiced their concerns during the board’s final meeting of 2012, claiming it was the first they’d heard of the idea.

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Tehmi Chassion
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Rae Trahan
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Greg Awbrey

Coincidentally, the three board members who took issue with the proposed expansion during the Dec. 12 meeting were no-shows for a presentation given just an hour and a half before by the World Language Immersion Task Force.

Those members, each having logged double-digit absences from board functions in 2012, include Tehmi Chassion, Rae Trahan and Greg Awbrey.

Board rep Trahan’s cluelessness of the proposed expansion comes as no surprise considering she was a perennial no-show in 2012 with 19 missed board functions for the year.

Awbrey’s and Chassion’s lack of knowledge on the topic is a bit more unexpected, especially since schools in their districts would be greatly impacted by the expansion’s approval.

For Awbrey — who missed 15 board functions in 2012 — the impact on his district would be focused on Myrtle Place Elementary, which would require rezoning to allow for its conversion into a fully immersed school, meaning in addition to the students, French would be the required language for staff members as well.

In addition to having in his district two schools that would be impacted by expanding the program, Chassion also has a daughter enrolled in the parish’s existing French Immersion Program. But for whatever reason, he too was completely unaware, even of the fact that a task force including three French speaking members of the school board — including reps Tommy Angelle, Kermit Bouillion and Mark Babineaux — had been created about four months earlier to help determine the pros and cons of the proposal.

“This is my first time hearing of these changes ... as well as my first time hearing of other board members being on this task force,” Chassion, who missed 14 board functions for the year — mostly workshops and special meetings — said during the Dec. 12 meeting. “If someone would have just sent out an e-mail, I would have been happy to sit on the task force.”

One task force member involved in the Dec. 12 presentation was state Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro, who appeared surprised by the out-of-the-loop school reps.

“This is not the first time this is being presented to the public,” Ortego told the board. “We’ve been putting this thing together over the last four months. It was on the front page of the [Daily] Advertiser. Robo-calls have been made to every parent. There are three school board members on the task force. I encourage y’all to try and educate yourselves on this. Just make sure you’re educated on it. I encourage y’all, get involved, learn about it, because this is going to take immersion to a whole new level.”

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