Small yard signs exclaiming "The LPSB Hates Black Children!" are inflaming racial tensions the week the Lafayette Parish School Board is scheduled to vote on a controversial proposal to convert N.P. Moss Middle School into a career and technical high school. The signs have recently cropped up on a handful of street corners in predominantly black neighborhoods on the north side of town, in and around areas zoned for N.P. Moss. Thus far, no one has claimed responsibility for the signs.
Greg Davis, a member of 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette and chairman of the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council, has been a vocal opponent of closing N.P. Moss as a middle school. He says he does not know who put up the signs but feels that it is definitely tied to the N.P. Moss issue.
"I'm disappointed that we are having this kind of reaction," he says, "but I do think that it is an indication of how much frustration there is in the north side community. Right now, I am sensing lots of frustration from lots of people who believe that they are absolutely powerless in influencing the school board not to close N.P. Moss Middle School."
"There are lots of people," he continues, "that are feeling like it's a hopeless situation and they have little ability to influence the school board to keep the school open. The disconnect and the gap between the north side community and the Lafayette Parish School System is bigger than it's ever been and when things deteriorate to where they are now, those are the kind of reactions that you can probably expect. People are very disappointed that we are facing the possible closing of a fifth school in the north side community."
Davis is referring to the closures of St. Antoine Elementary, J.Wallace James Elementary, Truman Elementary and Vermilion Elementary, all of which have been closed over the past ten years due to judicial orders in the school system's desegregation case. At its Wednesday meeting, the school board is scheduled to take up the issue of a career and technical high school — something that the school system has been studying for over a decade. The school board is currently considering four options recommended by facilities consulting firm CSRS for creating a technical high school — two of which involve the conversion of N.P. Moss. The other options are to house the school at Louisiana Technical College or to build a new school. The board brought up the issue at a heavily attended meeting two weeks ago, but then tabled the agenda item.
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