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East Baton Rouge School Board votes against renewal of Superintendent Narcisse's contract

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BATON ROUGE - The East Baton Rouge School Board voted against renewing Superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse's contract Thursday night, a move that puts into question who will lead the region's largest district.

Prior to the vote, public commenters expressed frustration about Narcisse's leadership, especially with the bus driver sickout that took place at the beginning of the school year.

Narcisse has also been criticized for the school system's involvement in the 2022 "Day of Hope" program, which some saw as blurring the lines between Church and State and which has led to legal action against East Baton Rouge Schools.

Some board members expressed their lack of confidence in the current leadership of the school board.

"From my experience on the board this last year, I feel we need better leadership in place," East Baton Rouge Parish board member Nathaniel Rust said. "Over the summer, in my experience, as we handled the budget, the lack of leadership was concerning for me."

Rust also says there is no way for the board to draw up a new contract for Narcisse. The board cannot revisit the contract for another 60 days, and Rust believes the vote would go the same way regardless. Rust also expressed concern regarding Narcisse's position as a lame-duck superintendent.

"I don't know if it's fruitful for us to have a superintendent in place that doesn't have a long term contract. We have to discuss that. While we have decided not to continue his employment, he has worked hard for the district, and we have to show him respect," Rust said.

The proposed new contract for Narcisse included a $55,000 base pay raise and incentives worth tens of thousands of dollars more. It would raise base pay to $310,000 next year, with hikes each year thereafter. 

The Board met Thursday in a special session to vote on the proposal. Narcisse attended but did not speak during the hours-long session.

The vote showed division among the members of the Board, with five against the new contract and four members supporting it.

The contract called for an annual 4 percent increase, so long as Narcisse received a favorable review. It also included incentives "up to $20,000" conditional on achievement of performance targets to be specified at a later date.

The term of the contract was to begin on Jan. 1, 2024.

Narcisse was recently a finalist to lead the Broward County, Fla., school system -- one of the largest in the nation.

Though he ultimately did not receive an offer, his candidacy there put contract renewal in Baton Rouge on the front burner.

Narcisse's contract is currently set to expire June 30, 2024.

He joined EBR Schools in early 2021, following a stint as Chief of Secondary Schools for the District of Columbia system.

Prior to that, Narcisse was the Chief of Schools for Metro Nashville.

He holds Master and Doctorate degrees in education from Vanderbilt University and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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