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Parents address children’s rights

By STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / November 16, 1998

LUTCHER – The St. James Parish School Board was addressed by parentsconcerned with the educational rights of their private school children at Tuesday’s regular Board meeting.

The public school system made available an ACT Preparation Class in October to juniors and seniors at Lutcher and St. James high schools.Parish resident Terry Bourgeois was discouraged when her child was denied participation in the course because her child attends school at a private institution. She accused Superintendent Walter Landry ofeducational discrimination.

“Mr. Landry discriminated against the educational opportunity for studentswho attend private schools,” Bourgeois said. “I’m a taxpayer like everyoneelse.”Landry said that the ACT preparation course was funded via public funds, but, “As superintendent I’m obligated to serve the public school curriculum,” he said. “I’m dedicated to improving the ACT scores atLutcher and St. James high schools.”The Board moved to obtain legal advisement and address the issue at the next regular meeting.

Parish resident Dawn Johnson requested that the Board reconsider its decision not to provide her child with transportation to a private school in another parish. Johnson said her child, diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, isenrolled at a private institution in another parish to obtain proper care that wasn’t attainable in St. James Parish. The Board rejected her requestfor transportation reimbursement.

“We have a minimum that we are able to provide, and that’s all we can do,” Landry said.

In other business, the Board moved to install permanent volleyball court equipment at Lutcher Junior High School and Paulina Elementary. In aletter to the superintendent from Errol Manuel, a physical education teacher at LJHS, it was stated: “The present system is inadequate and unsafe. The standards are large and easy to trip over. We are requestingthat a permanent, safe system be installed.”The Board agreed to purchase light-weight, maneuverable equipment for both schools and to evaluate the safety of volleyball facilities at other parish schools. The cost for the project at LJHS and Paulina is under$2,000.

The Board approved the bid of Michel’s Contracting, Inc. for theinstallation of a kitchen ventilation system and fire suppression system at St. James high School. The project will include the replacement of therange hood, a fire alarm system upgrade and renovations to better fireproof the facility.

Cost of the project is $52,900.

In other action, the Board: Agreed to re-admit three expelled students into Lutcher High School. Thestudents will be on probation for several months upon re-entrance.

Moved to participate in the Senior Admission Program at Nicholls State University.

Approved the resolution authorizing the superintendent to sign the Required Louisiana Uninsured Motorist Selection Form.

Approved the 1998-99 Salary Schedule Book. Copies of the report will besent to each parish school.

Moved to advertise for library books for the 1998-99 school year.

Approved update of personnel list, bills and invoices recommended by the Finance Committee and recommendations from the Finance committee regarding the purchase of Methods’ System to upgrade existing mainframe computer.

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