MINUTES

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

337 Napoleon Street

New Roads, LA  70760

 

REGULAR MEETING

Thursday, February 26, 2015

 

 

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board met for their regular monthly meeting on Thursday, February 26, 2015, at 337 Napoleon Street in New Roads, Louisiana 70760. President Frank R. Aguillard, Jr., called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.

 

Landon Webb, High School Student of the Year, was requested to lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

 

Mrs. Karen Shaw was requested to offer the invocation.

 

Board members present for roll call were: Chad Aguillard, Frank Aguillard, Bobby Jarreau, James Cline, Leslie Ann Grezaffi, Anita LeJeune and Thomas Nelson.

 

School Personnel in attendance were:  Linda D’Amico, Superintendent; Bridget Berry, Supervisor of 21st Century Community Learning; Lacey Bueche, Supervisor of Technology; Lisa D’Aquila, Supervisor of Personnel; Kate Guillory, Supervisor of Child Nutrition; Stephen Langlois, Chief Financial Officer; Karen Shaw, Supervisor of Head Start; Mary Wells, Supervisor of Special Education; Stacy Gueho, Principal of Livonia High School, Natalie Aguillard, Principal of Rosenwald Elementary; Myron Brown, Principal of Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary; and Kim Canezaro, Principal of Valverda Elementary.

 

Expression of Sympathy.  On a motion by the entire Board and seconded by the entire Board, condolences were offered to the families of: 

 

Leroy Achee’, Sr., a former member of the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board.

 

Percy Joseph Aguillard, Jr., father of Glenda Henry, school food service worker at Valverda Elementary.

 

Arthur Joseph Hutchinson, retiree of the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board and father of Clyde Hutchinson, maintenance employee.

 

Patricia Marks, mother of Shamelda Louis, teacher at Rougon Elementary.

 

Vivian Guidry Thomas, mother of Barbara Baise, cafeteria worker at Valverda Elementary.

 

Walter Smith, Jr., brother of Sharon Warr, paraprofessional at Rougon Elementary.

 

Nolen Webb, retiree of the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board.

 

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Students of the Year Recognized.    Supervisor Lisa D’Aquila announced the names of Students of the Year for 2014-2015 and read a brief bio regarding each individual student.

 

The elementary student of the year is Kathryn LeBlanc, a 5th grade student at Valverda Elementary.  Kathryn is in 4H, Junior Beta, volleyball and dancing.  Her favorite subjects are science and social studies and she would like to be a teacher.  Kathryn addressed bullying, hunger, and caring for pets in the essay she submitted.  Mr. Kenny Ramagos, a representative from People’s Bank, presented Kathryn with a check.  Kathryn also received a plaque and a certificate from the School Board for her achievement.

 

The middle school student of the year is Abigail LeBlanc, an 8th grade student at Livonia High School.  Abigail has maintained a 4.0 average since the 2nd grade.  She would like to be performing arts major and perhaps a teacher or pediatrician later.  In the essay submitted by Abigail, she addressed bullying and cancer, as her mother is undergoing treatments at this time.  Mr. Wade O’Neal, President of Guaranty Bank, presented Abigail with a check.  Abigail also received a plaque and a certificate from the School Board for her achievement.

 

Also mentioned was how special it was to honor two sisters, Abigail and Kathryn, on the same night as Students of the Year recipients.

 

The high school student of the year is Landon Webb, a 12th grade student at Livonia High School.  Landon has a 4.0 GPA and previously achieved student of the year when he was in the 5th and 8th grades.  He is planning to attend LSU and major in chemical engineering.  Landon discussed politics and being against abortion in the essay he submitted; he also discussed his Christianity as he has strong Christian beliefs and is not afraid to share them.  Mr. Keith Miller, a representative from Cottonport Bank presented Landon with a check.  Landon also received a plaque and a certificate form the School Board for his achievement.

 

President Frank Aguillard announced it is always an exciting day for the School Board to recognize Students of the Year for working hard to earn this honor.   Mr. Aguillard stated teachers and parents play a part in this role as well and mentioned how proud the Board is that these students plan to be future teachers, engineers, politicians, and doctors.

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Board Member Brandon Bergeron arrived at 5:45 p.m. 

 

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Consent Agenda.  Mr. Chad Aguillard made a motion, seconded by Mr. Thomas Nelson, to table the consent agenda items.  The motion carried by a unanimous vote of the Board.

 

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Head Start Supervisor’s Report.   Mrs. Karen Shaw, Head Start Supervisor, asked if everyone had read the monthly report she had prepared and if there were any questions. 

 

Mr. Chad Aguillard made the motion to approve the Head Start monthly report prepared by Mrs. Karen Shaw.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Leslie Grezaffi.  Having no opposition, the motion carried.

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Ratification of School Year Calendar for 2014-2015.  Superintendent D’Amico announced an Administrative decision was made to have a full day of professional development on February 24, 2015 to adequately prepare for testing, rather than the ½ day previously scheduled.  She mentioned a call did not have to be made to parents regarding students not coming to school that day due to weather conditions, as it was already a professional development day; teachers were allowed to report to their respective schools at 10:00 a.m. due to early morning weather issues.  Mrs. D’Amico reported the day went very well with regard to preparation involved with the new testing demands and asked the Board to ratify the revision to the 2014-2015 school calendar.  

 

On a motion by Mr. Thomas Nelson, seconded by Mr. Brandon Bergeron, the school calendar for 2014-2015 was ratified to reflect a full day of professional development on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.  Having no opposition, the motion carried.

 

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Adoption of 2015-2016 School System Calendar and the 2015 Summer Work Schedule for 12-Month Employees.

 

Dr. LaShonda Victorian, Supervisor of Child Welfare and Attendance, announced there were concerns regarding the high number of student absenteeism on Thursday and Friday after Mardi Gras.  Administration would like to adjust the previously proposed 2015-2016 draft calendar, presented at the Executive Committee meeting, to reflect a full week off for Mardi Gras with added days in the school year to help remedy the absenteeism problem experienced.

 

Mr. Thomas Nelson made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Grezaffi, to adopt the 2015-2016 school year calendar, reflecting one week off for Mardi Gras 2016, with added school days to meet the required number of days, the 2015 summer work schedule for 12-month employees, presented by Dr. Victorian; including the 12-month employee holiday schedule.  Having no opposition, the motion carried.

 

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March Executive Committee Meeting Date Revised. President Frank Aguillard requested permission to reschedule the March Executive Committee meeting from Thursday, March 19, 2015 to either Thursday, March 12th or Wednesday, March 18th

 

Mr. Chad Aguillard made a motion to reschedule the Executive Committee meeting from March 19, 2015 to Wednesday, March 18, 2015.  The motion was seconded by Mr. James Cline. Having no opposition, the motion to revise the date of the Executive Committee meeting carried.

 

President Frank Aguillard mentioned that he will call a special meeting after the Superintendent’s job application deadline to discuss the process of selection.

 

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Monthly Financial Information.   Chief Financial Officer Stephen Langlois provided routine monthly financial information.

 

On a motion by Mrs. Leslie Grezaffi, seconded by Mr. Bobby Jarreau, the monthly financial information was approved as prepared by Mr. Stephen Langlois.  The motion carried. 

 

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Discussion and/or Action Regarding Johnson Property Leases.   Chief Financial Officer Langlois stated Mr. Jedd Johnson had contacted him to inquire if the School Board would be interested in leasing 12.65 acres of property located north of Livonia High School.  The 1-year lease could be readdressed, if the School Board wanted to continue leasing the property.  Mr. Brandon Bergeron, Chairman of the Building & Grounds Committee, stated there was a lengthy discussion and it is the Committee’s decision to lease the property.  Mr. Thomas Nelson questioned if the lease is for one year with options; Mr. Bergeron stated that is correct.

 

On a motion by Mr. Brandon Bergeron, seconded by Mr. James Cline, the Board voted to approve the lease of 12.65 acres of Johnson property located north of Livonia High School for one year, with the option to readdress.  The motion carried.

 

Audience Member Carl Terrance requested permission from the chair to address this agenda item.   President Aguillard acknowledged Mr. Terrance’s request.  Mr. Terrance requested information regarding the purpose of the lease.  Mr. Bergeron stated it would be used for additional parking for events; a portion of the baseball field would also be used as part of it is included in the lease.  Superintendent D’Amico reiterated the property would be used for event parking.  Mr. Bergeron explained that it is too early to tell right now if this is something we would like to continue leasing.  Mr. Chad Aguillard questioned the part that may be on the property.  Mrs. D’Amico stated this lease will be an extension of more property from the current lease we have with the Johnsons for the baseball field. Board member James Cline mentioned a portion of the baseball field built 30 years ago is part of the lease.  Mr. Bergeron stated as events have happened at Livonia, more property is needed; the lease of this property will allow the School Board to meet the needs of the events.  Mr. Cline stated you may want to expand one day as some places need more property.  Mr. Bergeron questioned whether the lease indicates the possible purchase? Superintendent D’Amico stated the school system will have the first right of refusal.  Board member Bobby Jarreau mentioned they are looking to buy a small corner of the property.  Audience Member Reginald Roberts requested to make a comment and announced it is his understanding the School Board can find $20,000 to lease property when Pointe Coupee Central needs maintenance work.  He further stated you keep trying to continue making a main high school in Livonia and Livonia is not the main high school in the parish. President Aguillard, while hitting the gavel on the table, stated they were discussing property and you, Mr. Roberts, are not respecting the wishes of the Board. 

 

Mr. Cline made a motion to lease the 12.65 acres of Johnson property for one year, with the first right of refusal.  Mr. Brandon Bergeron seconded the motion.   Having no opposition, the motion carried.

 

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Discussion and/or Action Regarding Appraisal and Possible Sale of Former School Board Office.  Stephen Langlois, Chief Financial Officer, announced the Building & Grounds/Finance Committee would like to have the former Pointe Coupee Parish School Board office (located at 1662 Morganza Highway, New Roads, LA) appraised for possible sale of the property.  Mr. Brandon Bergeron, Chairman of the Committee, agreed that Mr. Langlois is correct.  Mr. Bergeron stated the recommendation of the Committee was to authorize the Superintendent and CFO to have the office building and the property appraised then bring it back to the entire Board for consideration.  President Frank Aguillard asked the wishes of the Board with regard to the appraisal. 

 

Mrs. Anita LeJeune made a motion to have the former School Board office building and property appraised.  Mr. Brandon Bergeron seconded the motion.  There was no opposition and the motion carried.

 

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Discussion and/or Action Regarding Appraisals of Excess School Board Property.  Mr. Brandon Bergeron, Chairperson of the Building & Grounds’ Committee, stated property is not being utilized on some of the school campuses and the Committee instructed Mr. Langlois to have the excess properties appraised.  However, if any member of the School Board is not in favor of having the school in their district appraised, they have the option to pull the school from the list of proposed property appraisals. 

 

Superintendent D’Amico stated there is going to be a request for a polling place for voting off of the school campus of Rosenwald Elementary so that school would not have to be closed on an election day.  She mentioned an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Pointe Coupee Police Jury would need to be executed for the 4 acres behind the fence of the school.

 

Board Member Thomas Nelson stated he was approached by Mr. John Grezaffi, Manager with the Police Jury, about locating a polling place off of the Rosenwald Elementary property.  Mr. Nelson stated he does not see a problem with putting a polling place on the property.  As far as the property being for sale, he announced that he is not interested in that property being sold.  Building & Grounds Committee Chairperson Bergeron stated the excess property at Rosenwald will be pulled from the list.  Mr. Bergeron further stated he did speak with Mrs. Janet Vosburg, Vice-President of the Police Jury, about using the property for a polling place and there is a definite interest in the Police Jury doing that.  Mr. Bergeron stated after speaking to his constituents, he would also like to pull the School Board property located behind the Morganza School from the list of excess properties.

 

President F. Aguillard readdressed the agenda item stating appraisals for all excess property of the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board, with the exception of Morganza and Rosenwald and yielded to Mrs. Leslie Grezaffi, the School Board member whose district includes Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary School in Batchelor, La. Board Member Leslie Grezaffi mentioned there is a lot of area outside of the fence at Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary that is not attached.

 

Board Member Chad Aguillard mentioned the only school last year that had to close on election-day was Rosenwald Elementary School and stated it would be beneficial if there could be a polling place separate from the school.

 

President Frank Aguillard mentioned that he had also spoken to Mr. John Grezaffi and Mr. Donald Fuselier with regard to the School Board possibly providing a building that is no longer being used as a classroom as a polling place for the next election.  Also mentioned is the collaboration between the Police Jury and the School Board is going well; this new information will help the school system.  Mr. Aguillard stated the Board is voting to appraise LaBarre Elementary and the property behind the fence at UPCE.

 

Mrs. Leslie Grezaffi requested clarity regarding the property located outside the fence at UPCE and if it has anything to do with the school property?  Mr. Donald Fuselier explained they do not want to touch the property inside the fence on the school property.   President Frank Aguillard requested to pull the UPCE property from the list.

 

Mr. Brandon Bergeron made a motion to get an appraisal of the former LaBarre Elementary School and the former School Board Office.  Mr. James Cline seconded the motion.   The motion carried.

 

After being recognized by the Chair, audience member Anthony Daisy interjected that it is ironic to have a polling place when voting is once a year and find the time to take two days extra for Mardi Gras when election is every 4 years and voting is only for one day.  Board Member James Cline explained the two extra holidays given during Mardi Gras during the 2015-2016 school year are not being taken away, two days are being added to the school year, thus still reflecting 180 days of school. 

 

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Discussion and/or Action Regarding the Lease of a Building in New Roads for Mechanic Shop/Offices for First Student.   Chief Financial Officer Stephen Langlois met with the Finance Committee regarding the lease of a building in New Roads to be used as a mechanic shop for buses and offices for First Student.  Finance Committee Chairperson Brandon Bergeron informed the Board the building being considered is the former Quality Chevrolet building located on Hospital Road.  He announced the Committee recommended paying $10,000 toward the monthly building lease until the end of First Student’s contract in 2016, rather than $18,000 (the original amount requested by First Student).  Superintendent D’Amico stated the school system is already incurring at least that much in transportation expenses a month having to drive to the mechanic shop in Zachary, LA, to repair the buses.  Board Member Chad Aguillard questioned if it would be cost effective if Mr. Will Love, with First Student, accepts the $10,000.  Superintendent D’Amico explained we had buses that needed repairs that put us at a disadvantage; financially, having a building close by would be to our advantage.  Mr. Bergeron stated the reason the Finance Committee came up with the $1,000 figure is they felt it would be fair and close (proximity) for repairs would be helpful.  President Frank Aguillard asked if we could get a motion.  Mr. Nelson questioned if they could find out if this amount would be an acceptable offer, first.  Mr. Will Love stated that First Student will accept the office over 14 months.

 

On a motion by Mr. Brandon Bergeron, seconded by Mr. James Cline, the Board approved paying $10,000 toward the monthly building lease in New Roads for a mechanic shop for buses and offices for First Student.  The motion carried.

 

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Adoption of Revisions to the 2014-2015 General Fund Budget.  Chief Financial Officer Stephen Langlois announced the State requires having a total of $964,461 in at-risk fund; the sales tax fund is estimated at $296,841; surplus predictions.  Mr. Langlois stated looking at the bottom line of the 2014-2015 general fund budget, there is more of a deficit than was originally budgeted and the following reasons were provided.  LSER’s billed $113,000 to the school system for privatization fees resulting from two bus drivers that passed away, resigned and/or retired; textbooks went over budget by $149,000, after Office Max and Office Depot merged and the duplication costs for books doubled; SRCL was supposed to contribute toward the Wonders’ reading books and resources; however, due to cuts the grant couldn’t fund the books.  Superintendent D’Amico mentioned there was a MFP transfer increase of $134,000 for Connections; two busses were reduced ($99,000) and working on further spending reductions with the help of Mr. Will Love of First Student.  For the public’s sake, Board Member Nelson explained when we talk about the deficit for the current fiscal year, we do still have money in reserves; Mr. Langlois confirmed that the school system still has reserve funds. Mr. Nelson mentioned what he had just heard at the LSBA Convention regarding other school systems in the state also experiencing deficit spending.  He stated the Jefferson Davis Parish School Board’s CFO mentioned they have had deficit spending for 6 years.  Mr. Nelson reiterated that we (the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board) are not the only ones with deficit spending; school systems all over the state are experiencing deficit spending.  Mr. Bergeron mentioned there are a lot of one time expenditures in this deficit budget and a lot will not be recurring expenses (i.e. the alternative school; restrooms, and textbooks); the Committee’s recommendation is to accept the budget revision as presented by Mr. Langlois for the reasons just explained.  Board Member Anita LeJeune questioned the reserve account relative to the audit and if we (the School Board) are lower than we should be?  Mr. Langlois explained the 15% reserves were for the audited year of 13-14; however, this adjustment will place us in the 11 to 12% position after the budget revision. He stated the State recommends a 10% reserve.  Following the comment by Mr. Aguillard regarding the one time expenditures, a motion was entertained.   

 

Mr. Cline made a motion, seconded by Mr. Bobby Jarreau, to adopt the revisions to the 2014-2015 general fund budget.   The motion carried by a unanimous vote.

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Contract Form for Promotional Appointees Pursuant to R.S. 17:444.   Mrs. Lisa D’Aquila, Supervisor of Personnel, stated after talking to Attorney Hammonds, administrative contract forms need to be approved by the School Board pursuant to R.S. 17:444 of the 2014 Legislative Session. She stated the form has to be signed when the person is appointed, thus the reason for bringing this forward today. She explained that once the person (employee) has signed the form, performance objectives will be written together.  Board Member Chad Aguillard announced that he would like to recuse himself from discussion and voting for this particular item.

 

Mr. James Cline made a motion to approve the contract form for promotional appointees pursuant to R.S. 17:444.  Mr. Thomas Nelson seconded the motion.

 

Mrs. LeJeune asked if we have an existing policy and Mrs. D’Aquila explained that we have been using contracts; however, in this legislative session, it was stated approval is needed by the Board.  Mrs. LeJeune further questioned if an administrator was removed and placed back in their old position was this applicable to their pay, stating if this is accurate, there may be a conflict with our policy; therefore, it should have gone through the Policies and Procedures Committee. Mrs. D’Aquila explained this is in compliance with State law.  Mrs. LeJeune inquired if this is something we can work on or do we have to do it today.  Attorney Hammonds was in attendance and explained the contract is consistent with State law and local policy cannot supersede state law.  He explained if you eliminate the position, then you go to the lower position, but you cannot involuntarily cut pay unless you eliminate the position; further explaining that Act 548 ties the hands of the Superintendent as you have to provide an approved contract.  Superintendent D’Amico mentioned if a principal’s position is RIF’d, then the employee would revert to a teaching position at teacher’s pay.  President Frank Aguillard asked for Attorney Hammonds’ opinion.    Mr. Hammonds stated the Act of the Legislature was for the Board to approve the contract form, as interpreted by his office.  The contract limits the term to 2 years; the purpose of Act 548 results from a case in Rapides Parish.  Mr. Frank Aguillard stated so this is a mandated law.  Mr. Bergeron questioned what would happen to the salary if a person is removed after the administrative contract is over; does the employee go back to their former teaching position and their salary would reflect that of a teacher? Attorney Hammonds stated you cannot cut pay during the contract, only after the contract is over and mentioned there are procedural steps you have to go through.  Mr. Hammonds also mentioned Act 570 provides a new process of termination regarding the contract of administrators; the same process used for tenured teachers.  Mrs. LeJeune further questioned if you are not working out as a principal what would happen?  The principal can be returned to their last job position (i.e. teaching).  However, Mr. Hammonds gave an example if a Principal steals money from a school, they could be terminated from both positions.

 

The original motion made by Mr. James Cline to approve the contract form for promotion appointees pursuant to R.S. 17:444, seconded by Mr. Thomas Nelson, passed by a 7-1 vote of the Board; Mr. Chad Aguillard recused from voting for this item. 

 

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Acceptance of Superintendent D’Amico’s Retirement.   Superintendent D’Amico mentioned she had mailed letters to members of the School Board on January 27, 2015, announcing after much careful thought, she has decided to retire on July 1, 2015; her current contract ends on June 30, 2015.   She stated she has enjoyed 33.5 years of service in the school system.  Mrs. D’Amico stated the 5.5 years she has served as Superintendent have been enjoyable, challenging, and rewarding.  She wished all students and everyone involved in the educational process much success, stating it has been her life and she will miss working with everyone.  Superintendent D’Amico stated that she will work with the School Board to make this a smooth transition and hope that you will select a Superintendent who brings unity and is allowed to seek local support to provide the resources necessary to continue improving the educational process for our students.

 

Mr. Frank Aguillard made a motion, seconded by Mr. Thomas Nelson, to accept Superintendent Linda D’Amico’s request to retire.  Being there was no opposition, the motion carried by a unanimous vote of the Board.

 

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Superintendent Selection Process.  President Frank Aguillard stated after speaking with Mr. Hammonds, this item may have been placed on the agenda too prematurely.  He mentioned when this was done in 2009, the Board waited until advertising was completed before adopting procedures for the selection process. Mr. Aguillard shared that all 8 members of the School Board were on the Committee in 2009; first and second round interviews were held; the community was involved in asking questions, through public individual interviews and a public forum with the sitting Superintendent serving as the moderator. He mentioned the process used last time worked well; however, the procedures may need to be revised depending on laws that may have changed since then.  Mr. Aguillard announced advertisement closes on March 12; however, the School Board can choose to extend the process, if needed.  President Aguillard announced there are several parishes looking for Superintendents and Attorney Hammonds will be able to share information that will assist the Board during the process. He mentioned the Board has the authority to hire and fire a Superintendent.  Mr. Aguillard expressed that he would like to call a special meeting on March 18, 2015, to consider adoption of procedures for the selection process; therefore, requested to table this item until such time.  President Aguillard stated the law has changed and the only employee the Board can hire or fire is the Superintendent.

 

Mr. Chad Aguillard made a motion to table the Superintendent Selection Process until the Special School Board meeting on March 18, 2015.  Mr. James Cline seconded the motion.  The motion carried by a unanimous vote.

 

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Remarks from the Superintendent.  Superintendent D’Amico stated she would like to introduce the two newest principals in our school system announcing Mrs. Natalie Aguillard was appointed as the Principal of Rosenwald Elementary School and Mrs. Marcie Cazayoux was appointed as the Principal of Rougon Elementary School.  She stated they are doing an excellent job!

 

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Strategy Session Concerning Pending Litigation.*   The agenda noted that 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.  Attorney Robert L. Hammonds requested the School Board enter into an executive session.

 

Executive Session.  On a motion by James Cline, seconded by Bobby Jarreau, the Board convened in an executive session at 6:40 p.m.

 

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Open Session.  On a motion by Mr. James Cline, seconded by Mr. Bobby Jarreau, the Board reconvened in an open session at 6:59 p.m.

 

President Frank Aguillard stated the Board took no action. 

 

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Adjournment.  On a motion by Mrs. Anita LeJeune, seconded by Mr. Thomas Nelson, and having no objections, the meeting adjourned at 7:05 p.m.

 

                                                                       

                                                                                   

Frank Aguillard, President

 

                                                                                   

Linda D’Amico, Superintendent