Walter Pierce

Officials to host G/T open meeting

by Walter Pierce

Amid widespread concern that the Gifted & Talented program statewide could be in jeopardy, a Lafayette state representative and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member for southwest Louisiana will host an open meeting to discuss the program.

State Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, and BESE member Dale Bayard (District 7) will answer questions at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the South Regional Library at 6101 Johnston St. Other area elected officials are also expected to attend.

An uproar swept through the G/T community recently when changes to the program were proposed by the state association that represents special education coordinators. Currently, G/T is administered through the special-ed program in Louisiana, entitling each G/T student to an Individualized Education Program, which is federally mandated for all special-ed students. Special education coordinators want to pull G/T out from the special-ed umbrella, which could end the IEP entitlement for G/T students and, as a result, the requirement that parish school board’s make programs, facilities and specialized teachers available to them. The push to remove G/T from special-ed is coming mainly from poor, rural school districts, which have few G/T students and which view G/T as a financial strain.

But Bayard, in a Sept. 30 article, “Gifted, Talented and Under Siege,” told The Independent, “I am absolutely against changing the Gifted and Talented Program.” Bayard also said he didn’t believe there were enough votes on the BESE to entertain any changes to G/T.

“There has been an overwhelming response to the proposed changes to the Gifted and Talented program,” Landry says in a press release announcing Monday’s meeting. “This meeting will allow concerned parents and people who support quality education to get accurate information about what is happening.”