BPSB’s limits in South Bossier issues

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Congratulations to Parkway High School’s Panthers – the team has had an amazing season and looks to take it all the way in Saturday’s match up with Acadiana in the Super Dome.

All of Bossier Parish will be cheering for the team and hoping for that perfect 14-0 season.

And hopefully, after this great wrap-up to 2013, south Bossier parents dissatisfied with Parkway’s Principal, Nicole Bourgeois, will look at the situation through a more informed lens – and perhaps be better equipped to work with the Bossier Parish School Board’s administration to resolve troubling issues.

But that won’t likely occur until three lawsuits against the board and Bourgeois are settled.

South Bossier board members have taken a good deal of criticism from parents, as these members are seen to be ignoring parents’ concerns. Hopefully most of these parents recognize that along with Bourgeois, the school board is a defendant in these lawsuits – and that means board members cannot discuss anything relevant to the suits.

Moreover, those who call for board members to consider dismissing Bourgeois may have missed state lawmakers action to significantly curb such actions. Per state law, the board hires only a Superintendent — the hiring and firing of a school system’s staff and personnel is the exclusive domain of the Superintendent, not the board. This model emulates the corporate world in which boards don’t make employment decisions beyond that of their CEO – which helps keep the politics out of the process.

District 12 board member Kay Padgett Byrd said that people “… sometimes believe that we have all this power … I want the best outcome for the whole community – I want that to be safe, secure (schools) and a positive experience for all …” Byrd went on to explain that while she has received numerous calls and e-mails regarding the Parkway issues, the lawsuits restrict her responses.

“While I grieve for all the folks being affected (by the issues), I just cannot say anything,” Byrd said.

Barbara Rudd, south Bossier District 11 board member, said that she’s received some feedback from Parkway parents, but not to the extent that Byrd has experienced. And Rudd believes that’s a result of south Bossier parents not realizing that they have two board members in the area.

Rudd described the school board’s function as one of hiring a superintendent, making the school district’s budget and finance decisions, and developing policies and procedures for the school system.

“I feel like people don’t know that we do not vote on (the hiring of) school principals … and in the lawsuits, we were served as defendants – we’re not to discuss them,” said Rudd.

In a time when parental involvement in public education is on the wane, it is refreshing and reassuring to observe the level of parental interest and involvement at Parkway High School. And that’s not uncommon in south Bossier – my experience is that all of our south Bossier schools enjoy the support of their respective parent groups.

But when it comes to addressing serious issues in one of those schools, it is helpful to know the limitations of board members and school officials. Perhaps the new year will bring a little more insight into how the system works – and resolution of some of those issues.

 

 

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