A group of vocal Lafayette High School alumni and families, with an assist from a beloved former teacher in the Gifted Program, is urging the Lafayette Parish School Board to abandon plans to move one of the school-of-choice academies and half the Gifted Program from LHS to Comeaux High.
The issue is set to be discussed Tuesday evening during a joint meeting of the Facilities and Finance committees, and Melinda Mangham, the former Gifted Program teacher, says opponents of the plans hope to present board members with a petition signed by more than 500 people urging the board to vacate the plans.
The LHS supporters posted the petition at the website Change.org. The “TLDR” (Too Long Didn’t Read) version of the petition states (to read the long version and/or sign the petition, click here):
The members of the Lafayette Parish School Board should vote against concurrent proposals to move Lafayette High School’s health or performing arts academy to Comeaux High School and to divide the high school gifted program between Lafayette High and Comeaux. There is no sound educational policy that supports moving these programs or justifies the significant consequences to Lafayette High’s national standing or students’ access to quality educational programs. Instead of dismantling the very popular schools of choice and gifted programs at Acadiana’s flagship school the school board should responsibly redraw attendance boundaries to even out the student body populations in area high schools.
A second petition, also found at Change.org, focuses on keeping the Performing Arts Academy at LHS.
In a letter to the editor emailed to The Independent on Monday, Mangham, who now works as an education consultant, writes:
Some of the local press has reported that parents, students, and members of this community have been in dialogue with the Central Office and Board of the Lafayette Parish School System about what to do with Lafayette High School. I do not believe that these parts of the Lafayette Parish School System have heard the voices of those who are products of Lafayette High School and its programs and academies.
Since the business community led by the Chamber is always focusing on the “PRODUCT,” I encourage the community and the Lafayette Parish School System and Board to really listen to the voice of the product.
Former Lafayette High School students have created and proffered a petition to address concerns about the possible changes to their alma mater. Their voices are clear, accurate and specific about how these changes would impact a proven educational success story. As an educator, I am constantly reminded of the miracle of affirmation. The former students of Lafayette High School affirm my belief in just how extraordinarily incredible they are! They are demonstrating citizenship — becoming a voice for what they know to be excellence in education at LHS in all of its parts. This excellence has been created by the diversity, the gifts, and the talents of the students who attend.
These voices have had many opportunities because of the education received at the A school that is Lafayette High. My dream, my hope, my passion is that this district and its educators provide a quality education for all students in whichever school they attend, but not by dismantling one school to benefit another. The voices of the former LHS students reflect that the opportunities for a great education do exist in our district. I am extremely proud to have taught with dedicated teachers and to have had such impressive young people in my classroom.
I applaud these former students for accepting the responsibility of “stepping up and speaking out” to address an issue that is so educationally unsound. I urge this community and our school board to listen to these voices. A school of the caliber of Lafayette High School is an asset to this city and parish on many levels. These voices are saying to the LPSS and its Board, LEAVE LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL ALONE. LET IT CONTINUE TO LEAD THIS DISTRICT.