May 13, 2014 04:23 PM
nancylandry

Sure, state Rep. Nancy Landry's bills targeting the school system didn't gain favor among her fellow lawmakers, but that doesn't diminish her broader argument that the Lafayette Parish School Board's general inability to work alongside its superintendent is a disservice to the thousands of students whose interests they were elected to represent.

 
  

Sure, state Rep. Nancy Landry's bills targeting the school system didn't gain favor among her fellow lawmakers, but that doesn't diminish her broader argument that the Lafayette Parish School Board's general inability to work alongside its superintendent is a disservice to the thousands of students whose interests they were elected to represent.

The reason Landry's House Bills 1231 and 1232 were needed can been seen during almost every meeting of the Lafayette Parish School Board, where for almost two years board members have kept up a non-stop fight because of the changes wrought by Act 1 of the 2012 Legislative Session, namely that the law gives superintendents the power to hire and fire. Remember, Act 1 is still the law of the land.

Yet, our school board's inability to come to terms with that law has time and time again meant wasted hours and wasted money over a power battle with Superintendent Pat Cooper, which otherwise could have been spent on more pressing issues like J.W. Faulk Elementary's failing accountability scores, just to name one.

Landry's H.B. 1232 would have merely clarified the authority already granted to supers by Act 1, namely by prohibiting school board members from threatening a superintendent with action over personnel decisions. H.B. 1232, on the other hand, would have created penalties for school boards unwilling to follow the law.

But Landry's bills didn't pass, and instead, we're left with a school board focused on an investigation of the superintendent in what has widely been described as a "witch hunt" - one that will no doubt prove a costly endeavor.

Here again is a list of suggestions for the school board offered by the Lafayette Public Education Stakeholders Council when it came out in support of Landry's bills:

To promote student performance and school system effectiveness, the Lafayette Parish School Board should govern so that it:

1. Empowers the superintendent as CEO of the system with full authority to administer district affairs, including but not limited to personnel actions and other operational duties

2. Clearly defines short-term and long-term measurable goals for student performance and system effectiveness for the district

3. Holds the superintendent accountable for achieving board established goals and incorporate as part of his/her annual performance evaluation

4. Reviews board and system goals on student achievement and system effectiveness at least quarterly at a regularly scheduled board meeting to assure that reasonable progress is being made

5. Pro-actively seeks taxpayer input and builds broad support for policy decisions prior to final voting

6. Holds itself accountable to the entire community

7. Works collaboratively with a broad range of stakeholders, including parents, faith-based organizations, business networks, non-profit organizations, government and stakeholder coalitions

8. Handles conflict respectfully and ensures that comments are inquiring, challenging or solution oriented

9. Publicly responds to comments and concerns expressed at board meetings by citizens and stakeholder groups.

10. Bases its decisions on information found in research, data, policies, best practices and alignment with board and system goals.

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