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Teacher advocacy group says employee's promotion is a conflict of interest

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LIVINGSTON- The Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (APEL) is raising serious concerns about the promotion of a central office employee whose spouse sits on the school board. The concern comes as a litany of complaints are lodged against Bonnie Cox.

"We are hearing the same thing, and it's concerning," APEL Executive Director Dr. Keith Courville said.

Bonnie Cox was the longtime principal at Walker Elementary School until she was promoted to the Supervisor of Instruction this summer. Cox had a history of complaints against her from parents. The WBRZ Investigative Unit has profiled them in the past.

In 2018, Morgan Wesley said Cox tried to ban her from the school after her five-year-old ingested a prescription pill on the school bus.

This year, Jessica Michel said Cox tried to deny an education to two homeless boys she took in after their father went to jail. After the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed what was going on, the children were admitted the very next day.

Now, it's not parents who are complaining. Instead, it's the employees.

Among some of the issues that are being alleged:

1. Cox allegedly meddling in their work.

2. Specifically, they claim Cox has instructed personnel not to engage teachers about concerns they have over educating students during this pandemic.

3. They are alleging that Cox has threatened their jobs if they don't comply.

This summer, Cox's promotion was rubber-stamped by the same school board that her husband sits on as a member.

"Under the circumstances that she got the position and her husband's support of the superintendent, we really feel like it's a conflict of interest and inappropriate for her in her position to silence teacher voices," Courville said.

As fed up teachers staged a sickout Wednesday, the problems in the Livingston Parish School System appear to finally have reached a boiling point.

"If I was a public citizen and voter in Livingston Parish I'd take a long look at who is on the school board and that is the only way to solve this by eliminating the conflict of interest between the superintendent, the school board member and the school board member's spouse Ms. Cox," Courville said. "The only way to do that is one of those three has to leave."


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