School changes coming from Coburn

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 25, 2005

Controversial change at East St. John Elementary sets off rumors


Staff Reporter

EDGARD — There are still changes to be made in administration in the St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools before the new school year begins, according to statements made at the school board meeting on Thursday.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Coburn said the “total reorganization plan will be presented at the board meeting to be held on Aug. 4, and will include information regarding new principals, and assistant principals, and also on two new jobs recently created in the central office.

The plan stems somewhat from the resignation of Alnita Miller, who was hired in May as principal of East St. John Elementary. Miller, who was recently employed in the East Baton Rouge school system, suddenly quit last week for “personal reasons.”

It was rumored last week that Jerry Galloway, assistant principal at John L. Ory Magnet, and former principal at East St. John Elementary was the immediate replacement for Miller. Coburn confirmed those rumors at Thursday’s board meeting.

“We placed Galloway in that position,” Coburn said.

Though some expected the decision to replace Miller with Galloway to be hotly debated within the board, the issue was only covered at the meeting for several minutes.

In 2004, when Galloway was principal for West St. John High, he was suspended for leaving money in the school safe overnight.

The money, about $8,000, was reported stolen. An investigation was conducted, but no one was ever charged, and, after serving a suspension, Galloway went to John L. Ory.

According to a published report, Board Members Keith Jones and Russell Jack, both expressed concerns over hiring Galloway, saying they opposed the idea.

However, at the meeting, it was not Galloway that Jones and Jack appeared to take issue with, but rather that the hiring of him was not on the night’s agenda.

“Why do you feel the need of administration to wait when school is in two weeks,” Jones said, “Why isn’t this an agenda item?”

However, Coburn said he met with approximately seven of the board members right after Miller resigned, and they gave their support for him to meet with directors and make a decision.

Coburn said he did not put it on the agenda because he wanted to present the reorganization plan all at once.

“We had hopes the board would just wait until that time,” he said.

After the meeting, Coburn said the hiring of Galloway was a unanimous decision.

“There was a criteria set, and Ms. Miller was the number three choice, while Galloway was the number four choice from the interview committee.” Coburn said, “He was the most knowledgeable and strongest candidate for the job.”

Coburn also said he hopes the incident at West St. John will not cause controversy.

“It’s all speculation,” Coburn said.

Board Member Russ Wise also expressed similar sentiments before the meeting.

“He was principal before, and the school did fairly well,” Wise said. He also added, “I’m not going to lynch a man on the basis of something no one could prove he had nothing to do with.”