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Tangipahoa parents turn out for school board meeting after court-ordered principal change

3 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago Tuesday, May 21 2024 May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024 10:02 PM May 21, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

HAMMOND — Parents, teachers and students turned out Tuesday night for the first Tangipahoa Parish School Board meeting since a federal judge ordered a change at an elementary school.

Some complained that Superintendent Melissa Stilley sent an insensitive email after the court told her to appoint a Black woman as principal of the Hammond Eastside Magnet School.

"In the email, it was an email addressed to faculty and staff of Hammond Eastside Lower and it was basically addressing a change in the leadership role, and in that role the superintendent called Mrs. Sharon Walker ‘the black applicant,’" Michael Showers said.

While Walker was not discriminated against directly, she was able to demonstrate to a review panel that the deck was stacked against all Black applicants. A federal judge told Stilley to give Walker the job.

Current Principal Jenna Vial had some supporters, too, and School Board member Trent Anthony said steps were taken to ensure everyone received a fair shot at the job.

“On a personal level, I can guarantee you that every decision I have made has been made considering whether or not it is the right thing to do to benefit all students in an equitable way. The way the public has responded to what’s going recently, I’ve been kind of insulted," he said.

The Tangipahoa desegregation case dates to the 1960s, with key parts of the district operations subject to federal review.

Stilley said that since the district didn't discriminate against Walker directly, she wasn't entitled to the job. The federal court said May 10 that direct and indirect discrimination were both wrong.

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