Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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School board members say school system 'dropped the ball' on Day of Hope field trip

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BATON ROUGE - East Baton Rouge school board vice president Dawn Chanet Collins has a lot of questions about how a heavily-religious field trip got approved by the school district.

The "Day of Hope" put on by 29:11 Academy has been around for about a decade and EBR schools have attended in the past. However, it looks like this year was the first year students from the entire school system were involved.

Despite the groups' good intentions, inviting a larger, more diverse group of students and not being entirely transparent on what they would be attending has resulted in a lot of unrest and a possible lawsuit.

"They are concerned about the use of state and federal funds for activities that are prohibited by state and federal law. They're also concerned about actions that may have resulted in emotional distress, that may have occurred without informed consent of parents in violation of the law," said Mary-Patricia Wray, who is helping to organize the lawsuit.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the school system acknowledged the negative experiences of the event on some students for the first time, claiming they were "unaware of any religious aspects of this event."

A Google search of the 29:11 organization brings you to their website, where a large banner proclaims "Kids got Jesus".

"If due diligence had been done from the beginning, none of this would have been a surprise and could have been avoided," Collins said.

Collins says she would have preferred professionals to speak to kids about topics like sex, rape, and suicide, and that those questions would have been brought up had the school board been involved.

"This matter was not brought to the school board because the service contract amount was less than $10,000 and so the board trusts the superintendent to have some discretion under that threshold amount."

WBRZ planned to talk to superintendent Sito Narcisse at a speaking engagement Wednesday evening, but found out he had pulled out the night before.


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