Residency questioned after chief is seen taking son to school in another parish
BATON ROUGE- There are questions about how a public official from another parish gets to send his son to the only Blue Ribbon school in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, Baton Rouge Magnet High.
For several months, the WBRZ Investigative Unit recorded video of Plaquemine Fire Chief Mackie Guillot in his fire engine red Chevy Tahoe waiting for his son to come to the vehicle after school or dropping him off at the start of the school day. The Guillots live in Iberville Parish but make the 40-minute drive to drop their son off or pick him up.
"I come to pick my kid up from school," Guillot said when asked about what he was doing outside the school recently. Guillot said his son has a residence in Baton Rouge.
But, property tax records obtained by the Investigative Unit show Guillot and his wife Annette have claimed homestead exemption at their property in Plaquemine for years. The home is on Kirtley Drive and sits on a large plot of land. According to East Baton Rouge Parish Assessor Brian Wilson, that means the Plaquemine home is the couple's primary residence, and they should not be sending their kid to a public school in Baton Rouge.
"If you're claiming the apartment as your primary, then no, you would not be allowed a homestead exemption at another address, because you're not living there," Wilson said.
Tirzah Smith is the Director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Child Welfare and Attendance Office. Her office is now investigating since the Guillot's primary residence is out of the parish.
"You can only have one domicile," Smith said. "Of course, that's where you live and you're paying your taxes."
According to East Baton Rouge Parish School Policy, "A student who does not actually reside in the geographical boundaries of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System shall not attend a school in the system."
Trying to get into top schools is not a new problem. Central, Zachary, Ascension and Livingston have had problems in the past. Now the districts have strict policies to prevent zone jumping. The East Baton Rouge Parish School System does routine checks, but since only Baton Rouge Magnet High has the highest accolades, this isn't a problem they typically deal with.
"They live in Pl....they have a residence in East Baton Rouge Parish," Mackie Guillot answered when pressed about where his primary residence was. Though, that answer appears to be a well-rehearsed farce.
On several occasions, the chief was seen leaving Plaquemine with his son early in the morning. On some drives, the child was seen napping on the way to school. When asked about what has been seen, the chief did not want to comment.
"I'm not answering any more questions with that," Guillot said.
Some believe it's not fair that the son of a public official in another parish is allowed to attend Baton Rouge Magnet High.
"I don't see how a child can come to school in EBR at a Blue Ribbon school where there are other students in line to get into those Blue Ribbon schools, and that concerns me," State Representative-Elect C. Denise Marcelle said.
As this investigation continues into how this has managed to go on, people in Plaquemine are also upset that their taxpayer money is being wasted; burned up on gas for personal business on trips out of town, with the Fire Chief far away if there's a real emergency. Again, Guillot did not want to comment.
"I don't have anything else to say."
It's unclear how long the school system's investigation will take. If investigators determine the Guillot's violated policy, the chief's son will be forced to attend a school in his district.