LINCOLN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD Ruston, Louisiana
LINCOLN PARISH SCHOOL BOARD
SPECIAL CALLED SESSION
Monday, August 29, 2011 9:00 a.m.
The Lincoln Parish School Board met in Special Called Session on Monday, August 29, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in the Board Room of the Lincoln Parish School Board Office, 410 South Farmerville Street, Ruston, Louisiana. Members present were Ms. Debbie Abrahm, Mr. Otha Anders, Mr. Michael Barmore, Ms. Lisa Best, Mr. Curtis Dowling, Mr. Danny Hancock, Ms. Mattie Harrison, Ms. Lynda Henderson (arrived after the meeting began), Mr. Trott Hunt, Mr. Eddie Jones (arrived after the meeting began), Mr. George Mack, and Mr. Joe Mitcham. No board member was absent. President Otha Anders called the meeting to order, gave the invocation, and welcomed everyone in attendance. Upon a motion by Mr. Barmore, seconded by Ms. Best, the Board unanimously voted to approve the agenda as presented. Mr. Anders asked the Board's attorney, Andy Shealy, to make a statement. Mr. Shealy recommended that with respect to items 4.1 and 4.2, the two reports, there would be no need for a public comment period as those items were strictly reports and required no votes. He also recommended that the Board go into executive session to discuss the Other Business item 5.1 which involved the United States of America v. Lincoln Parish School Board bearing docket number 12,071 on the civil docket of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana otherwise known as the consent decree litigation. He further recommended that the Board go into executive session to discuss strategy and/or any action taking place in the same, and finally that any questions from board members take place in the executive session because any of them might have a detrimental effect on the pending litigation. Ms. Henderson entered the meeting. Donna Doss, Accountability Coordinator, provided background information relative to an accountability update and provided a status report concerning the placement of students who were impacted by the accountability status changes. Since the embargo placed on the district by the State Department was lifted, she released Lincoln Parish Career Academy's (LPCA) 2009 School Performance Score (SPS) of 29.0 and their 2010 SPS of 29.6 Lincoln Center (LC) had a 56.4 2009 SPS and a 53.5 2010 SPS. Ms. Doss communicated that due to BESE's failure to grant waivers of the alternative schools' accountability results and create alternative assessments, most of the students from LPCA were transferred to Ruston Junior High which has a SPS of 90.0 or Ruston High with a SPS of 109.9. Most of the students from LC were assigned to I. A. Lewis which has a SPS of 96.0 or the appropriate elementary school within the Ruston School District. In the midst of Ms. Doss's report, Mr. Jones entered the meeting. Pam Dill, attorney with the Hammonds & Sills law firm, verbalized a chronicle on the desegregation case which began in 1966 when the United States filed the complaint that is currently ongoing today. She summarized occurrences taking place in the intervening years and noted that in 2008 Judge Robert James was assigned the cased and entered an Order which revised the reporting requirements. Beginning in 2010, the Lincoln Parish school district has been working cooperatively with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to resolve the issues which remain in the 45-year-old desegregation case. The Court requested that the DOJ provide it with reports summarizing the status of those efforts. The Department filed several updates, culminating in a document entitled United States Status Report which was filed on May 24, 2011. The document contained information the DOJ's attorney received from various sources during his investigation and his own analysis, based on that information, of the District's current compliance with the various aspects of the desegregation decree and, to a greater extent, his analysis of the propriety of including the lab schools in the district's desegregation case. That report has been the subject of intense investigation by the Board's law firm of Hammonds & Sills as they have continuously engaged with the DOJ on the District's behalf. Ms. Dill communicated that on or before September 15, 2011, the District and the lab schools will file individual responses to the Department's report. Thereafter, the Court will render a decision regarding the lab schools' continuing role in this case. Ms. Dill reiterated that there has been no recommendation made to or any action taken by the Board with regard to seeking the Court's resolution of any issue in the desegregation case. Particularly, the action to close the alternative schools and return the students assigned to their respective home schools to receive appropriate alternative program services was not based on any recommendation relative to the desegregation case. However, recommendations regarding the desegregation case will be made eventually, when appropriate study and educational sound alternatives have been explored. When those future recommendations are made, the public will have the opportunity to provide comment on any such motion prior to the Board taking action. She closed by thanking the Board for the opportunity to clarify the status and the process to come in the District's desegregation case. As the final agenda item was a strategy session and/or action concerning pending litigation on the United States of America v. Lincoln Parish School Board, et al, Civil Action number 12,071 suit, Mr. Anders asked the Board what they preferred to do. Upon a motion by Mr. Mitcham, seconded by Mr. Dowling, and after a brief discussion regarding the right of the public to ask a question or make a comment, the Board unanimously voted to go into executive session at 9:22 a.m.
Upon a motion by Ms. Best, seconded by Mr. Hunt, the Board unanimously voted to return to open session at 12:59 p.m. There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 1:00 p.m. on a motion by Mr. Mitcham.
Danny L. Bell, Secretary
Otha L. Anders, President
1td: September 18, 2011