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    LETTER: We Stand With the Most Effective People

    Our intentions never have been and never will be to hurt White people or any particular race for that matter. Strategically speaking, supporting the advancement of African Americans in Tangipahoa is supporting the overall growth of the entire parish considering about half the parish is African American. And there is absolutely no way that we can ensure what is in the best interests of our children with the mindset that we should hire unqualified Black people at the expense of losing effective individuals who are non-Black. The point is that we understand that to bring about the significant transformation spoken of by the board, the system has to make certain it hires the most effective individuals to lead in specific roles. We can no longer just hire people for purposes unrelated to bringing about success in our children first. Nor can we sit around and wait for an unknown superintendent while things continue to fall apart as one Board member hinted to as an option. Significant change means that even individuals on the board may need to be educated on exactly where the district falls short which should help guide them with “look fors” when determining who is best qualified for various roles so that the hire that may have happened in the case of Transportation can more likely be prevented.

    And as hurtful as the truth may be, we have fallen a little short with our children. Think about it. As per LDOE, students of color in Tangipahoa have a graduation rate of only 66%. This means that a whopping 34% did not even graduate. According to statistics, what is the likely outcome for these kids?  Ask Sheriff Daniel Edwards. Or, ask our Parish’s landlords. Not even discussed is the fact that the average ACT scores of students of color is a mere 16.5. We must do better. It all works together and begins with ensuring our kids are receiving a quality education.  Our concern is not about race if the individual has proven to be qualified and effective in advancing all kids, especially Black children which is definitely needed if we want to improve our parish long term. It cannot be.

    For the record, there have been many Black individuals whom the NAACP did not support in positions that directly affect our children. In fact, we recently expressed our non support for the following individuals prior to their selection and we will explain why:

    Walter Daniels 
    Walter Daniels has not only supported every single action made by the current superintendent, he has also made specific statements that belittle women. Just recently, Mr. Daniels stated that a “woman cannot handle the Director of Transportation job.”  It is 2017, and this is the sentiment of an actual School Board member. How will he inspire more African American girls to go into STEM fields with this mentality?

    Andrew Jackson – The role of the CDIO is to hold the system accountable to following the court order while doing what is in the very best interests of our children. We can recall that the system fought viciously against the current individual serving in this role for being unqualified for the position. The NAACP agreed with the system in this case.  Under his watch so far, the system has:

    1. Began with a salary of $40,000 annually; now according to the LLA Report has increased significantly.
    2. “Negotiated” a job for a long time female friend (colleague from Reynolds Institute) in a public school as an actual social worker although this individual was found to not even possess a license to serve in such a role, let alone deal with our children.
    3. Allowed the current superintendent to choose White candidates for positions in which more qualified Black candidates applied knowing these individuals were not the better candidate for bringing out the best in our kids. For instance, nothing was ever done about the Early Childhood Coordinator position.
    4. Allowed the superintendent to let Hammond High go a full year without being advertised while being run by someone who was a teacher less than a year ago.
    5. Did absolutely nothing about the removal of the hundreds of African American children from Eastside and Westside to Greenville Park and Woodland Park even after having been warned of the impact this would have on both school’s overall performance scores. This placed Black kids in a worse situation than previous.
    6. Knowingly allowed the superintendent to avoid advertising key positions for months at the expense of our children and an entire system that is already in educational crisis mode.
    7. Never followed through with the complaint challenging the actual credibility and validity of our system’s magnet programs due to so many that are believed to be magnets in name only. For instance, How is Westside Middle Magnet different from Natalbany Middle?  What is the specialized program and how has it benefited the kids?
    8. Never followed through with complaint of flawed evaluation system in which individuals like the same magnet supervisor responsible for the failing magnet programs and schools as a result may be underserved receiving high marks. We have yet to see evaluations as compared to performance.

    Byron Hurst
    We have all come to realize that doctorate degrees come “a dime a dozen” these days and we know from watching first hand poor leadership at some schools that things that look nice on paper seldom guarantee effectiveness. Therefore, we must look at an individual’s performance record in educating our kids. Byron Hurst was an ineffective school leader in St. Helena Parish. The school failed and he was later given a position as an Assistant Principal in Tangipahoa Parish. He then applied for a Principal position at Sumner High and was offered the Director post instead due to the superintendent wanting to place a White individual in that position. This decision making had absolutely nothing to do with children of course.  We will never support this unethical decision making. Now we have a failed principal overseeing the welfare of our kids. Again, significant change must take place.

    So, for those who have so long believed the NAACP to be anti-White, let our support for Kim Notariano teach an important lesson about our organization. Chuckling as I am writing this, she is definitely not paying us to stand for her. And she does not have to. We know that Kim. We know she loves children and takes her job seriously. Her record and credentials speak for themselves. Her knowledge of transportation, performance record as an actual parish bus driver, not to mention her business background far outweigh educational backgrounds in our opinion not to mention the fact the individual now in question did not even qualify for the position based on the system’s own advertised qualifications. If the board had hired the other candidate, then it would have followed the same pattern as discussed in the cases above. And if we are going to go ahead and pull together to bring about the significant changes spoken of that the people want, then the NAACP is taking the steps necessary to do our part. Children first!

    Patricia Morris
    President
    Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

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    Does the education of Black children matter in Tangipahoa?

    The Fight Continues: 50th Years of Moore v. TPSB

    The fight to ensure equality for all children and employees in the school has extended through its fiftieth year. On May 3, 2015, the lawsuit filed by M.C Moore against the Tangipahoa Parish School System turned fifty with no resolution to the desegregation suit. The lawsuit was initially filed on behalf of his daughter, Fannie Moore, who was disenfranchised and not given an opportunity to receive an equitable and fair education, which is guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The name of this case was later changed to Joyce Marie Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School System, and was named after his younger daughter, thus becoming a Class Action Lawsuit with the plaintiffs being the class of Black parents and their children in Tangipahoa.

    Fifty years later, the question remains whether or not education in the lives of Black children matter. The answer is emphatically, yes it does, because the fight continues for equity in this school system. Unfortunately, there is very little resolve towards settling this decades old desegregation lawsuit.

    Moreover, many are keen to talk about or write pieces about what happens or does not happen in the public school system in Tangipahoa Parish. Consequently, I process and attempt to find balance with personal ties to the conflicts in Tangipahoa Parish race relations and injustices found in our school system that have had my attention for decades now.

    As we begin to reflect on the importance of this lawsuit, we think of the lawsuit being filed in 1965. As a result of this filing, Mr. Moore was ostracized. For instance, he and his family were threatened, and his livelihood and means of providing for his family were taken away through his logging business being sabotaged, which resulted in his having to bake cakes to sell to provide for his family. Men guarded his home at night after his home was shot into early one morning. His wife heroically crawled through grass and weeds to a neighbor’s home to call the police because their telephone lines were cut on the outside of their home. Those bullet holes remain in Mr. Moore’s home to this very day. Despite having his life threatened and his livelihood compromised, Mr. Moore pressed on. Thank you, Mr. Moore, for your courage and tenacity in ensuring equality for African-

    American children, and ultimately all children.

    After this case was filed and opened in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, with the late Honorable Alvin Benjamin Rubin as the presiding judge, the Tangipahoa Parish School System was forced to integrate its public schools in 1969. Judge Rubin ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating, in pertinent part, that the Tangipahoa Parish School System was segregated and did not provide equitable educational access to African-American students. As a result, the school board was ordered to reinstate the jobs of all terminated African-American employees as one of the wrongs the Tangipahoa Parish School System committed following forced integration in 1969.

    The plaintiffs’ case was led by Attorney Nelson Dan Taylor, Sr., who is now the Lead Attorney in the Moore Case. This case was Attorney Taylor’s first case as an attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund.

    Unfortunately, the school system did not comply with Judge Rubin’s order, and the case became dormant following Honorable Alvin Benjamin Rubin’s untimely death.

    The case was later reopened in 2007 at the urging of the Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP because of numerous complaints of the school system’s wronging of African-American children and African American employees. Evidence was provided to prove that the same segregated conditions still exist in Tangipahoa Parish School System. The test case used to reopen the M.C. Moore desegregation case was the case of Coach Alden Foster, who became the first African-American head high school football coach hired in Tangipahoa Parish. Coach John Williams was reportedly the first African-American head high school football coach in Tangipahoa Parish. However, after speaking to several others, including Coach Williams, we discovered that he was not given the position of head football coach at Hammond High School in Hammond, La., despite being appointed by Judge Rubin. Instead, Coach Carmen Moore, a white coach, was named as the head football coach at Hammond High.

    The discourse of this article is too long to write all of what has happened over the past fifty years in the Moore Case, however, a Master Thesis done by Dr. Wayne Brumfield is found in the Southeastern Louisiana University public library.

    As we commemorate the lawsuit’s fiftieth anniversary, let us remember to thank God for the stamina of Mr. Moore, his trials endured, and triumphs he and others made for every child attending school in the Tangipahoa Parish School System. Let us be mindful, as well as thankful for all of the accomplishments seen and unseen in this case having been reopened, because without such, sitting conservative judges would have dismissed this case due to its inactivity.

    While there are some 36 unopened desegregation cases, let us be mindful that the M.C. Moore lawsuit has set a precedent for subsequent desegregation cases. As President of the GTPB NAACP, and as I walk in the shoes of the late Mr. M.C. Moore, I feel his pain many times, and my heart breaks as I continue to witness the disenfranchisement of African-American children in the Tangipahoa Parish School System. Despite the many wrongs of this school system, I am reminded by Ecclesiastes 9:11 that “the race is not given to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor the bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all.” With these words in mind, the fight for equality will not end, and it cannot until “justice rolls down like a mighty stream” for every student and employee in this school system. There can be no other way, and no person will be left behind.

    Patricia Morris
    NAACP Tangipahoa Branch President
    Ponchatoula

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