New principal, AD chosen for St. James High

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2011

By David Vitrano


ST. JAMES – The appointment of a new athletic director and head football coach at St. James High School caused some concern among parents on the west bank of the parish at a special meeting of the St. James Parish School Board Tuesday.

James Bell was selected as the replacement for Rick Gaille, who helmed the school’s football team since 1992. Gaille, who said he is retiring after the upcoming school year, was reassigned to Lutcher Elementary School. Bell spent three years as head coach at Jackson State before being let go in 2005. His most recent position was as athletic director and head football coach at Drew Central High School in Monticello, Ark.

The concern among the parents stemmed from Bell’s less-than-stellar winning percentage as well as a history that includes several dismissals. He amassed a record of 8-26 at Jackson State University. Despite the concern, the board approved the appointment unanimously at the meeting, which was held at Fifth Ward Elementary.

The board also approved a replacement for former St. James High Principal Harry Francois, who will be assuming an assistant principal position. Francois’ replacement is Michael Kennedy, whose appointment also gained unanimous approval.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved a resolution to issue $6.5 million in interest-free QSCB bonds. Among the projects that will be funded by the bonds are renovations at Gramercy Elementary School.