MINUTES

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

337 Napoleon Street

New Roads, LA  70760

 

SPECIAL SCHOOL BOARD MEETING

Monday, September 22, 2014

 

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board met in a special session on Monday, September 22, 2014, at 337 Napoleon Street in New Roads Louisiana 70760. 

Mr. Frank Aguillard, Jr., President, called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m.

 

Board members present when the roll was called were: Chad Aguillard, Frank Aguillard, Brandon Bergeron, James Cline, Leslie Ann Grezaffi, Kevin Hotard, Anita LeJeune, and Thomas Nelson.

 

Mrs. Anita LeJeune led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

 

Mrs. Leslie Ann Grezaffi was requested to offer the invocation.

 

Strategy Session Concerning Pending Litigation.*   The agenda noted there may be an executive session to discuss this litigation, which is entitled, “Boyd and United States v. Pointe Coupee Parish School Board,” Civil Action No. 65-3164-A on the docket of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. 

 

Mr. James Cline made a motion to convene in an executive session.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Brandon Bergeron. 

 

Mr. Thomas Nelson announced he did not see a need for an executive session, as everyone knows what this is about and stated he thought people needed to be given every opportunity to hear and speak their concerns. 

 

Board President Frank Aguillard stated regardless of an executive session, all members of the Board and audience will have an opportunity to make comments about the Superintendent’s recommendations.

 

A roll call vote to enter into executive session, offered by Mr. James Cline and seconded by Mr. Brandon Bergeron, resulted in the following.

 

YEAS:   Frank Aguillard, Brandon Bergeron, James Cline and Leslie Grezaffi

NAYS:  Chad Aguillard, Kevin Hotard, Anita Lejeune and Thomas Nelson

ABSENT:  None

ABSTENTIONS:  None

 

The motion failed by a 4-4 vote of the Board.

 

Upon request from President Aguillard, Superintendent D’Amico preceded to present her detailed plan for the potential use of Pointe Coupee Central High School for 2015-2016. Mrs. D’Amico’s proposal is for an Early College/Career Academy of Pointe Coupee (ECCAPC) with a mission of preparing students from all backgrounds to succeed in their future college and/or career plans.  The vision of being a trailblazer in a new wave of high school design, establishing unsurpassed curriculum and meaningful community and business relations in order to produce distinguished alumni, being known as Louisiana’s preeminent institution for college and career readiness. The three-tier plan consists of the following program offerings: a high school diploma with potential to earn as many as 60 college credit hours/2 years of college credits that will transfer to any college; a high school diploma/Associate’s Degree; a high school diploma and a high wage Industry Based Certification achieved through partnerships with Baton Rouge Community College and other area colleges that provide distance learning programs. She explained the program would be geared toward students in grades 9-12, initially accommodating 200 students; enrollment would be an application process based on a lottery to ensure diversity.   Mrs. D’Amico stated student test scores would be included with the scores at Livonia High School; the Iberville Parish School Board processes its Math & Science Academies in Plaquemine and St. Gabriel in this manner. 

 

Following Superintendent D’Amico’s presentation, President Frank Aguillard stated all Board members will be given the opportunity to speak and opened the floor for their comments.

 

Board member Thomas Nelson mentioned the overall plan is a good framework and something that could be workable.  However, he expressed his concern about limiting the number of students that would be able to attend the program. Superintendent D’Amico explained that she would rather plan for a smaller group the first year of operation while attracting more diversity, with the goal of increasing enrollment each year as the system is able to obtain additional program components.  Mr. Nelson mentioned his main objective is to bring the school back where the community can be a part of a traditional school setting and mentioned; however, he does not see extra-curricular activities and sports in the plan presented by Supt. D’Amico.  Mrs. D’Amico explained the Early College/Career Academy of Pointe Coupee will be under the auspice of the other high school in the parish, mentioning other studied parishes placed these type of schools under another school in their parish.  Thus, the Early College/Career Academy (ECCAPC) would not be a separate school itself; therefore, will not receive a separate letter grade.  Students at the ECCAPC could participate in sports at the other high school.  Mr. Nelson mentioned that he would like to include a sports’ program at PCCHS, without having students participate at another school in the parish.  He stated he would like the Board to present something this community can be a part of; therefore, his main objective is to bring the school back to the community.

 

Board member Chad Aguillard stated he liked much of Superintendent D’Amico’s plan; however, while emphasizing the need for academic diversity, he, like Mr. Nelson, also would like extracurricular activities (such as athletics), because this will be good for the high school environment. Mr. Aguillard expressed his excitement regarding the opportunity students would have to earn two years of college during high school. He mentioned by reducing the number of years a student will spend in college toward earning their degree, should be successful in attracting diversity. Mr. Aguillard expressed a need to blend a traditional high school, with a career academy as proposed in Supt. D’Amico’s plan.

 

Board member Anita LeJeune mentioned the academy should place greater emphasis on the arts as there are a high number of students that are talented and creative, but doesn’t see one thing in Mrs. D’Amico’s plan that “touches” the arts.  Mrs. LeJeune further mentioned with the abundance of talent in the parish, she finds it hard to understand why the parish doesn’t offer any type of curriculum or education in the arts.  She mentioned there have been many actors, singers and other great performers that have come from Pointe Coupee Parish; arts programs would further enhance that. 

 

Mrs. LeJeune stated if the Board starts something new, something that hasn’t been done, why not have the most phenomenal arts program that has ever been offered in the area.

 

Mrs. D’Amico announced students would have to register and open enrollment college requirements consist of a 2.0 or 2.5 GPA.  She mentioned the need of community; however, she doesn’t want to duplicate services.  It would be an expanded version of Livonia High School with the needed push of how we are going to assure a diversity program that will draw other students.

 

Board member Leslie Grezaffi mentioned she likes the plan.  She inquired about open enrollment numbers of 200-400 students, and as previously stated by Mrs. LeJeune, she would also like to see music and arts as part of the plan. Superintendent D’Amico stated when she had previously spoken to personnel at BRCC they had expressed an interest in adding a component of non-certified courses for industry-based certification.

 

Board member Brandon Bergeron mentioned he thinks when the Federal Judge asked the Board to come up with a plan, his concern regarding desegregation is an issue; therefore, ways we can attract a diversified student body is relevant.  Inviting other schools, CHSPC and FRA, within the parish to participate in college and/or career technical courses would allow an opportunity for diversity.  While starting fresh, both black and white students need the opportunity to attend the program, otherwise this issue will have to be addressed in court again in Baton Rouge.

 

Board member James Cline stated he was going to yield his comments at this time.

 

Board member Frank Aguillard reiterated that the Board asked the Superintendent to come up with a plan to find a way to diversify the population at the school.  The College and Career Academy will have to have guidelines; however, students will have an opportunity to get a lot of college hours.  He further stated that he doesn’t know any place locally that students can go to college tuition free; some parents are making large loans for college to send their children to school.

 

President Aguillard opened the floor for public input.  He recognized the following audience members that raised their hand to speak, requesting they approach the podium:

 

Ms. Joanna Wurtelle, business owner, inquired about conversations with community colleges and wanted to know if non-public students have been polled about their interest.  She stated she is of the opinion the program should serve surrounding parishes, too.

 

Ms. Joetta Joseph mentioned she is a former educator and would like to present a counter plan, on behalf of the concerned citizens, and suggested the concept of thematic schools instead.  A high school, consisting of grades 7-12, would accommodate arts and music programs, thematic schools and would address all students other than just those who want special programs. She questioned if they tried to find out the interest of parents/students regarding one high school in parish at Pointe Coupee Central High.

 

Mr. Myron Porche, Sr. mentioned he is a former military person and how far behind the times “we are” in the parish.  Mr. Porche stated that only one high school is needed in this parish; make Livonia High School the middle school and Pointe Coupee Central High School the parish-wide high school.

 

Mrs. Laverne Aguillard stated she is a retired Supervisor from the Health Department.  She expressed her excitement about the opportunity students would have to earn college credits and understands the increased rigor requirements for CNA students.  Mrs. Aguillard inquired about early college academies, dual enrollment and if the traditional high school components were in addition to the career program. She mentioned basic courses are more important than arts/music courses.

 

Reverend Carl Terrance stated students from District 19 should be allowed to return to Pointe Coupee Central High School, a school which parents are still paying for; use a plan that is fair to everyone.

 

Mr. Reginald Roberts announced that it is really sad; everything the NAACP fought for went down the drain. The property that was purchased to build a consolidated school on Parlange Lane did not work; the court order said that PCCHS was to be a consolidated school.  He stated y’all (members of the School Board) took Pointe Coupee Central High School away from us and questioned how they are able to go to church knowing the injustice they have caused.

 

Mr. Russell Young introduced audience member Boyd, who was the plaintiff.  Mr. Young stated the case should be resolved amicably.  He mentioned that he does not want to see Pointe Coupee Central “dry up”, because it is all about the economics.  Mr. Young stated Superintendent D’Amico’s plan should have been implemented years ago and that Pointe Coupee Central High School should become the high school.

 

Ms. Jadon Hooper stated she moved to Pointe Coupee Parish in 2007 and was recruited by Mr. Larry Oliver to teach at Pointe Coupee Central High School.  She mentioned the school was immaculate and students had every program available in 2007.  Ms. Hooper stated that children want to be together; extra-curricular activities are good because it gets athletes to try in class, further stating Mr. Oliver’s plan is great and we have to consider the children.  He also mentioned that she grew up as a military child who received her education around the world.

 

Mr. Cline requested School Board Attorney Robert Hammonds to approach the podium.  He questioned the number of years Mr. Hammonds has been working with the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board.  Mr. Hammonds informed Mr. Cline he began in 1978.  Mr. Cline requested a little history about the court order and when the school was built.  Mr. Hammonds provided information regarding the 1983 court order for consolidation of the high schools in the parish.  He mentioned after three parish-wide bond proposals failed, Judge John Parker allowed the school district to be divided in two districts (District 10; combining Districts 1-9 to form District 19).  A bond issue was proposed by District 19 and it passed.  Judge Parker approved the operation of two high schools in Pointe Coupee; thus, Pointe Coupee Central High School was built.  There has been no other court order since the order issued in 1985 by Judge Parker.

 

Mr. Kevin Hotard asked Attorney Hammonds if a court would allow Pointe Coupee Central High School to reopen as a traditional high school, based on the racial makeup which is primarily African American.  Mr. Hammonds stated a lawyer knows not to speak for a Federal judge; however, the problems the court had was based upon the fact that there was a very small number of white students at the school.  He stated the school had only seven white students and performance scores were lower than the state requirements.  Mr. Hammonds mentioned unless they can come up with a diverse population, it probably will not be approved by the Judge.  The school was taken over by the state Department of Education’s Recovery School District (RSD) in 2008 due to poor school performance scores. They were then operated by the non-profit organization Advance Baton Rouge for three years, then RSD for two. The students’ scores on standardized tests like LEAP, under the operation of both ABR and the RSD.  This past spring, the RSD informed the School Board it intended to ask the Federal Judge to allow PCCHS to be returned to the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board, with the condition that the Board come up with a plan for the use of the building.  Judge Brady closed the school for the school year 2014-2015 to allow the Board time to make necessary repairs and present a plan to the court within six months. 

 

Recess.  President Aguillard called a recess at 7:02 p.m.

 

Open Session.  The Board returned to open session at 7:44 p.m.

 

After the School Board returned to open session, Mrs. Anita LeJeune made a motion to reconsider convening in executive session.  Mr. Kevin Hotard seconded the motion.  A roll call vote resulted in the following:

 

YEAS:              Frank Aguillard, Brandon Bergeron, James Cline, Leslie Grezaffi, Kevin Hotard and Anita LeJeune

NAYS:              Chad Aguillard and Thomas Nelson

ABSENT:          None

ABSTENTIONS:  None

 

The motion passed by a 6-2 vote of the Board and the Board entered a closed session at 7:45 p.m.

 

Open Session.  On a motion by Mr. Kevin Hotard, seconded by Mr. Brandon Bergeron, the Board reconvened in open session at 8:35 p.m.

 

Mr. Frank Aguillard announced, after hearing tonight’s comments, it has been decided more time will be given to Superintendent D’Amico to develop a plan for presentation at the regular School Board meeting on Thursday, September 25, 2014.  Attorney Hammonds reminded the Board that its plan for the future of the Pointe Coupee Central High School facility needs to be filed with the Court prior to the October 22, 2014 status conference.  There being no further business, Mr. Aguillard requested a motion to adjourn.

 

Adjournment. Mr. James Cline made a motion to adjourn.  Mr. Kevin Hotard seconded the motion and the meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

 

____________________________

Frank R. Aguillard, Jr., President

 

_____________________________

Linda D. D’Amico, Superintendent