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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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  • Tangi school board to decide on sick leave bank

    AMITE–The Tangipahoa Parish school administration has agreed to provide the school board with a recommendation on a request that accrued leave in the employee sick leave bank be rolled into the next school year.

    School system employees can voluntarily donate one hour of sick leave annually to the sick leave bank. Should an employee expend all of their sick leave and need additional leave, hours can be drawn from the sick leave bank.

    Kevin Crovetto, president of the Tangipahoa Federation of Teachers, told the board that if the remaining hours cannot be rolled into the next year, that they be returned to the employee.

    The board directed the administration to submit a recommendation by the first meeting in November.

    At the request of board member Sandra Bailey-Simmons, the board directed the administration to send to the board a recommendation on a request to set age 14 as the age for transition planning for students with an Individual Education Plan.
    Supt. Mark Kolwe said he would not recommend age 14 for all students, but would consider a case by case evaluation.

    The recommendation will be submitted at the first board meeting in November.
    At the request of board member Brett Duncan, the board directed its attorneys to provide to the board also at the first meeting in November a plan for moving the school system forward toward unitary status.

    The board is operating under the oversight of a federal judge due to a federal desegregation lawsuit filed by the parish NAACP.

    Duncan said he has received questions from constituents as to what steps the board has taken to move the suit to conclusion.

    The plaintiffs have filed numerous complaints and motions with the judge, but all have been ruled to have been without merit, he said.

    He said the school board has not been found in violation of any court order.
    The board cannot undertake simple maintenance projects because of motions filed by the plaintiffs, Duncan said.

    Attorney Pam Dill said the modified desegregation plan approved by the board in September, 2013, has been submitted to the plaintiffs three times for comment, as directed by the judge. The board attorneys have received no input from the plaintiffs, Dill said.

    The judge ordered the board to provide evidence of desegregation in the areas of transportation and extracurricular activities, facilities, faculty, staff, student assignment and transportation.

    Dill said the board has met the court’s requirements for transportation and extracurricular activities. The next step is to address a plan for the other four issues.

    Duncan asked Dill and attorney Ashley Sandage if the attorneys could have a plan ready by the first meeting in November. Dill said they could, that in fact, a plan was already prepared.

    Duncan asked that the plan show where the board now stands in terms of moving toward unitary status, and the measures that are needed to reach full compliance.

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