State education leaders support effort to create new SEBR school district
BATON ROUGE- Members of the BESE board, that oversees public schools across the state, say East Baton Rouge Schools are troubled, and they applaud any effort to do something different, even if it's parents doing something on their own.
Baton Rouge member Chas Roemer says what's worked for breakaway districts in Zachary and Central just a few years ago, can work for people trying to escape the East Baton Rouge School District now.
He said, "I guarantee you, the state department of education is not going to solve the problem. Here's what's going to solve the problem, people standing up, saying enough is enough, we're going to take responsibility for our schools."
Other members of the board say the same.
"I think that's a positive step, the board is supportive of community and parental engagement and so from that perspective I think that's good," said Board President Penny Dastugue, "People have lost patience with waiting for the quality of public education in East Baton Rouge Parish to improve."
This support is a switch from some board members' feelings in the past, when the cities of Zachary, Baker and Central created independent school districts. The issues then, losing money and diversity, are still issues today for supporters of East Baton Rouge schools.
State Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said, "You will segregate this system totally again, one more time."
"We can't treat education like the Titanic. We can't let some people get in the lifeboat and let the others hope for the best," said new EBR Schools Superintendent Bernard Taylor.
But board members say the district has done the damage to itself.
Dastugue said, "I think if you had a district that was on an upward trajectory that had stable leadership that was moving in the right direction you probably wouldn't see things like this."
"I think this is going to happen more and more," said Roemer, "This compliments what we've already done in this state, in this legislative session and at BESE, which is empowering parents to make decisions for their kids."
The next step for the proposed school district is the Senate floor. The date for that debate isn't set yet.