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What a mess

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A short memo to Bossier Parish School Board President Eddy Ray Presley: this “soju (sic) Bossier moron” suggests that it’s a real good thing Mr. Presley does not represent my south Bossier School Board District.

I guarantee that if he did, the next on-line petition he’d witness would be the one to recall him – regardless of his tardy apology, the content of which really doesn’t line up with his initial diatribe.

In an absolutely inexplicable social media contribution of remarkable short-sightedness and classless prose, Presley responded directly to a Change.org Parkway High School supporters’ petition that called for the discharge of Parkway High School Principal Dr. Nichole Bourgeois. Petitioners point to three current lawsuits against the school system in which Bourgeois is named as a primary defendant as consideration for her firing.

One was filed a year ago by Live Oak High School football coach Barry Musemeche, who was escorted off the Parkway field in handcuffs by Bossier City police when his warm-up timeline didn’t match that the Parkway principal. In addition, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association sanctioned Parkway’s football team – which finished 9-0 this year – with a prohibition on any playoff games on their home field.

Sadly, another suit, filed by Jessica Morton, mother of Parkway student Danielle Cox alleges that Parkway and its administrator did nothing to stop the bullying of Cox, who committed suicide. Finally, a third lawsuit, filed by former school nurse Lori Rayborn, who alleges that she expressed her concerns about Cox, but was ignored by Parkway High School officials – and was the victim of retribution by those school system officials for expressing those concerns.

Given these circumstances, School Board President Presley might have selected to react to petitioning south Bossier folks’ concerns with either a simple acknowledgement of those concerns – or better yet, abiding by the old adage that “discretion is the better part of valor,” avoiding a computer keyboard altogether until he’d fully processed the gravity of this issue.

Instead, and in response to the petition, he incredibly and inelegantly typed:

“Would like to notify Change.org (sic) and the morons in soju bossier (sic) that the president of the school board does not have the power to fire or hire anyone except for he (sic) superintendent but let’s start a petition to for Bobby Jindal (sic) and the founder of Change.org (sic) for using my name without my permission …”

Let us count the ways in which the current President of the Bossier Parish School Board is misinformed. First, the president of the Bossier Parish School Board, in and of him/herself doesn’t have the “power” to do squat. He/she simply conducts meetings, signs documents authorized by the board, and represents the body a year at a time.

Next, Mr. Presley is a public official; the media, the petitioners, and generally any other interested parties, can use his name with wild abandon – as long as comments are fairly accurate – to wit, the preceding and continuing …

Following Mr. Presley’s ill-thought and exceedingly superficial contributions to the Bossier Parish School Board issues at hand, the balance of the board issued this statement:

“It has come to the attention of the Bossier Parish School Board that an individual serving on the Board recently made remarks on social media sites. The individual’s remarks do not represent the views of the Board or the School District. Bossier Parish School Board (BBBA) clearly states: ‘the members of the Bossier Parish School Board shall have authority only when acting as a Board legally in session. The Board shall not be bound in any way by any action or statement on the part of any individual Board member except when such statement or action is in pursuance of specific instructions from the Board. As your elected representatives, we value the opinions and input, whether positive or negative, from all people throughout Bossier Parish and strive to act fairly and impartially for the greater good of the students and families we serve.”

It took a couple of days, but Presley finally offered his own apology, saying in part:

“ … I would like to apologize to all of my fellow residents of Bossier Parish who may have been offended by any of the statements made. I am extremely passionate about the rights of all employees, students and families in our parish. It is my personal feeling that plastering negative stories on social media outlets regarding parents, students, or employees in an attempt to destroy their reputation and/or career is not in the best interest of our parish nor the parties involved …”

There’s undoubtedly some remorse in the Presley’s statement – but his original comments didn’t seem to convey any concern for “the rights of all employees, students and families;” instead Presley seemed overly concerned with his own personal interest — “using my (his) name without my (his) permission …

The bottom line is that the citizens/residents/taxpayers of Bossier Parish (or any other community) have the right to protest an issue and ask for relief. Those in positions of power – elected/appointed officials – may not like the method of the protest, but calling the petitioners “morons” is not an effective, professional, or responsible response, and it’s most certainly not worthy of a Bossier Parish School Board member.

In the meantime, perhaps it’s time for a visit between representatives of the schools system and the petitioners to discuss the issues and for a better understanding by all parties of what might be done to remedy the problems.

 

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. She may be reached via email at m_carlso@bellsouth.net