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Livingston School Board shoots down teacher-inspired committee, approves committee presented by school admin

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LIVINGSTON PARISH – It was another contentious school board meeting in Livingston Parish Thursday night.

Teachers have complained at the past four board meetings about this year's curriculum and what they say is a lack of communication and understanding from the board.

Educators' main plea has been to form a committee made up of teachers, selected by their peers, who can open a line of communication among them, the teachers' associations and unions and the school board.

Another Thursday means another watch party in the Livingston School Board parking lot for teachers, as colleagues presented their case for forming what they call the Teaching Excellence Advisory Committee Habitude or T.E.A.C.H. Team.

"We want to form a partnership with the Livingston Parish School Board, LFT (Livingston Federation of Teachers), A-PEL (Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana), and non-affiliated teachers to provide all teachers with a voice and their commitment to continuous improvement for the betterment of an exemplary school district in which every student achieves success,” teacher Kimberly Cleveland said.

A moment after the public comment period was closed, Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill presented an alternate committee.

"I'm proposing the creation of the Livingston Parish Teacher Association. There are no dues to join this organization,” Parrill said.

The biggest difference between the two committees, Parrill says, is that principals select the teacher representatives from each school and not their fellow teachers, with also no involvement from teacher unions.

"A vote for any plan that includes the union is a vote for dirty politics,” Parrill said.

After a series of motions and substitute motions, the board voted to go against what teachers suggested and approved the Livingston Association of Teachers instead. Only two members, Kellee Hennessy Dickerson and Devin Gregoire voted against the measure.

Teachers immediately walked out after the vote.

"I'm disappointed in the people that make decisions for me, and my career and my children,” Tamara Cupit, president of LFT, said. “We're in that classroom every day. Everyday with those kids. We know what their problems are. We know how they learn best. And we know how we can teach them, those people do not."

Cupit says teachers are upset by the board's decision to yet again ignore the voices of teachers. She says they're upset but not ready to give up just yet.

"We've gotta regroup… we'll regroup and we're not gonna stop,” Cupit said.

Teachers staged a "sick-out" last week, with more than 300 absent. Schools remained open.

The teachers' group has not said whether something like the sick-out could happen again.

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