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Fed-up teachers, parents make their voices heard at Livingston School Board meeting

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LIVINGSTON PARISH - Dozens of frustrated teachers, parents, and students attended the Livingston Parish School Board meeting Thursday evening to voice their concerns about this current school year.

Teachers say even with the state moving forward to Phase 3, that does not solve all of their problems when it comes to balancing teaching both in-person and online students.

Their message Thursday remains the same from the past two meetings. They say with the way things are currently running, they can’t provide the same level of education that they’re expected to.

A large watch party gathered outside the school board meeting due to the limited seating inside because of COVID-19 restrictions.

One by one, fed up teachers, parents, and students made their way inside for public comment. Many described what they say is a lack of communication and concern on the board and administration’s part.

“Our teachers are struggling. I’m emailing them and they’re teaching in class and they’re doing virtual and they need assistance,” one parent said.

“Lately, I have seen something so unusual and so different in my teachers. I feel that they are exhausted, struggling, and drowning in the deep,” one student said.

With the state moving forward to Phase 3, it means more kids are coming back to the classroom. But around 2,200 students are still learning 100% virtually in Livingston. That’s on top of the 24,000 students now back on school campuses.

“Which we really have no room to social distance them. It does not take away teachers having to plan additional lessons and material for virtual students or give teachers more time to prepare,” Tamara Cupit with the Livingston Federation of Teachers and School Employees.

Some teachers say this is now bigger than issues stemming from the virus.

“I think what we’re dealing with tonight surpasses COVID, it surpasses a lot of things that they think that we’re upset about. We’re dealing with years of neglect. We’re dealing with years of feeling like we don’t have an avenue or a voice to say ‘hey, this isn’t working, how can I help?'” Walker High School teacher Andrew Pullman said.

Superintendent Joe Murphy addressed some of those concerns at the start of the meeting. He says the district's strong start committee, which was formed in response to the virus, now includes a handful of teachers.

That’s something educators pushed for at the last meeting, but it was shot down by all but two board members.

“Last board meeting I was just so shocked. Not only at the divide between the board and the teachers, but also the divide among yourselves. The fact that there was a powerful motion up there and there really wasn’t a lot of discussions,” Keith Courville, Executive Director at Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, said.

Board member Devin Gregoire says he feels that some small progress is now being made. But he encouraged that the processes should be expedited to satisfy educator and student needs.

Superintendent Joe Murphy says that the strong start committee met last Friday to come up with short-term and long-term concerns that they’ll look to address. He also says that teachers will be receiving two professional development half days to make up for one they lost in September.


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