Cooper plans administrative redress for Northside High

by Heather Miller

Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Pat Cooper predicts that Northside High will be under control' in four or five months if the school board approves his Northside High academic revamp.

Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Pat Cooper is proposing a vast overhaul of Northside High's administration, telling The Daily Advertiser in a Tuesday report that saving the struggling school from a looming state takeover means "we can't keep doing the same old thing."

According to the agenda for Wednesday night's Lafayette Parish School Board meeting, Cooper is asking the board to approve several key personnel changes at Northside, the district's worst-performing high school.

Included in those changes are replacing acting Northside principal Yvonne Zeno with Melinda Voorhies and transferring Zeno back to her assistant principal position at Lafayette High. The Advertiser reports that Voorhies is a retired school administrator who lives in Lafayette Parish and most recently served as a key administrator for Valley Park in East Baton Rouge Parish, where she was "instrumental" in turning the school's performance around:

Cooper's proposal calls for the board to approve the additions of Garrick Johnson as Dean of Students, Sandra Billeaudeau as special monitor for the Northside High Turnaround project ... acting assistant principals Laura Adams, Linda Nance and assistant principal Barbara Landor.

"We are replacing some positions, but we're also creating new positions that will play a key role into fixing what is wrong with Northside," Cooper said. "We are going to try and give the board members as much information as we can so that they and the community can understand that Northside is not too far away from being taken over by the state. You don't shut down a school and turn it into something else. You fix the school and, in order to do that, we can't keep doing the same old thing."

Cooper has selected Northside High as the pilot site of his academic turnaround model and also has called for the shifting of dollars that already exist in the school system budget to make much-needed renovations and repairs at Northside High.

All of Cooper's changes require board approval. The board meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the school board office.

Read more on Cooper's Northside plans here.