The Lafayette Parish School Board took its first action Wednesday night toward the search for a new superintendent, opting not to hire an outside search firm to assist the board in finding a replacement for outgoing Superintendent Burnell Lemoine.
After muddled discussion and an off-road, contentious speech from Board Member Tommy Angelle, the board voted to form a search committee that will report back to the full board with recommendations on search criteria and advertising strategies for hiring the new top education official in the parish.
How large the committee will be and who from the School Board will serve on the committee has yet to be determined. Board Member Tehmi Chassion suggested that Hunter Beasley, District 8 board member, chair the committee and hammer out details on how the committee will be formed. Beasley, a UL Lafayette faculty member with a master's in education, has been part of numerous search committees through his day job and has an extensive education background.
But Angelle, backed by five other board members, balked at the idea, and the board eventually voted to have Board President Mark Allen Babineaux appoint three School Board members to serve on the search committee. Conceivably, the committee will also include community stakeholders from outside the school system, though how many and who those will be are not yet clear.
For Angelle, a search for a new superintendent isn't necessary because in his mind, there's a new "caucus" of board members who are conspiring against the system and already have a new superintendent in place.
Angelle was referring to a recent phone conversation he had with Board Member Kermit Bouillion over whether to extend Lemoine's contract another six months. Apparently, Bouillion called Angelle before the vote was scheduled to inform him there were five board members, Bouillion included, who would not vote to extend Lemoine's contract.
" 'There's five of us, and four of you' is what [Bouillion] told me," Angelle said during the meeting. "He caucused five board members. If I had caucused members of the school board, the organizations that didn't want to see me in this seat would have scoured the streets of Carencro ...
"In that conversation, there was one name that came up for superintendent," Angelle continued. "So there might already be a superintendent in place — and we might not have any say so."
In his quick comeback, Bouillion said he "asked the opinions of my friends, my colleagues," as he does on any issue coming before the school board. Most government bodies, he argued, already have a good idea of how the vote's going to go before it takes place.
For the record, we don't yet have a new superintendent. Lemoine has another seven and a half months to serve. And for those bitterly outside the imaginary loop, we'll keep you posted.
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.