Minutes: October 12, 2017
The Beauregard Parish School Board met in regular session Thursday, October 12, 2017, at 6:00 pm in the Central Office Board Room. David Vidrine, Darrin Manuel, Kathy Bruner, L. D. Spears, Cassie Henry, Wesley Taylor, Martha Jackson, Timothy Hudson, Don Gray, Ray Bowman, and Student Representative Tabitha Deer were present.
Timothy J. Cooley, Superintendent, was present and acted as secretary.
The Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance were led by Joey Bartz.
David Vidrine asked all board members to look over the agenda that had been prepared, stating that if no one wished to comment on the agenda, he would accept a motion to adopt the agenda as presented. Hearing no discussion, upon motion of Wesley Taylor, seconded by Darrin Manuel, board members voted to adopt the agenda as presented.
Next, board members considered adopting the minutes of the September 14, 2017, regular meeting of the Beauregard Parish School Board, as published in the official journal. David Vidrine stated that he would accept a motion to adopt the minutes of the September 14, 2017, regular meeting of the Beauregard Parish School Board, as published in the official journal. Hearing no discussion, upon motion of Wesley Taylor, seconded by Cassie Henry, board members voted in favor of adopting the minutes of the September 14, 2017, regular meeting, as published in the official journal, by a margin of 8-0, with two abstentions (Gray and Bowman.)
Superintendent Cooley began by stating that Tabitha Deer, Student Representative to the Beauregard Parish School Board, would share some information about student council events in the parish. Ms. Deer stated that a parishwide student council officers and advisors meeting had been held recently, hosted by DeRidder High School Student Council. At the meeting, a variety of activities were conducted to help develop leadership skills. During this time, advisors met to discuss the annual Color Run, deciding on March 2018 for the event and assigning a “to-do” task list for each school student council. Later, a “meet-up” day will be held to mix the colors for the event and distribute the t-shirts.
Next, Mr. Cooley announced several observances: October 9-13, National School Lunch Week; October 16-20, National School Bus Safety Week, and October 23-27, Red Ribbon Week. Mr. Cooley expressed his appreciation for all of the employees who assist in serving meals to students in our school cafeterias and to the teachers, bus maintenance employees, and bus drivers who ensure that children arrive at school and back home safely each day. Red Ribbon Week will feature activities that focus on good character, making good choices, being drug-free, and bullying prevention, using the theme “Your Future is Key, so Stay Drug-Free.”
Board members were informed that Early Childhood Performance Profiles are due to be released later in October and School Performance Score Report Cards and District Performance Score Report Cards would be released in November.
According to Mr. Cooley, the MFP (Minimum Foundation Program) official student count appears to show about a 40-student increase in Beauregard Parish over October 2016, and Mr. Cooley thanked all those who had worked to make that happen.
Mr. Cooley reminded board members that Liz Maricle would be retiring November 1, and advised them that advertising would begin soon to fill this position. Mr. Cooley noted that, since the supervisory position held by Ellis Spikes had not been filled, filling this position was critical.
Next Mr. Cooley asked Kim Hayes to present information regarding the Louisiana Department of Education “School Finder” website, which is scheduled to “go live” this fall. According to Ms. Hayes, this website will be introduced in conjunction with the release of School and District Performance Score report cards, and will incorporate a variety of search options. Interested persons will be able to search by geographic area, school course offerings, co- and extra-curricular activities, and will be able to view school report cards, discipline and attendance information, and other information, as well.
The last item that Mr. Cooley shared with board members was a report on the continuing decline of sales tax revenue. Board members were given information showing the last few months’ collections, and the contrast between collections so far this year and collections in 2016. The total amount of year-to-date decrease is $188,000-$189,000, over last year’s collections, and Mr. Cooley requested that board members keep this in mind going forward.
To address the next agenda item, “To discuss and recommend action regarding pending sales tax settlement,” David Vidrine began by clarifying that the only action that had been decided in the Finance Committee meeting on October 9, was a motion to table the item until the next Finance Committee meeting. Mr. Vidrine explained that a meeting, attended by Mr. Cooley, Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Casanovas, Mr. Manuel, and himself, had been held with the Comptroller and a Human Resources Officer from PCA. Mr. Vidrine shared an overview of the meeting, which addressed questions about how the overpayments occurred and allowed the district to explain how the repayment arrangement will impact the school system. Mr. Vidrine stated that the school system is required by law to disperse the funds in a particular way, a fact of which PCA officials may have been unaware; whereas other entities may be able to set the overpaid funds aside, while an agreement is negotiated. Perhaps the most significant topic, according to Mr. Vidrine, was the knowledge that there have been changes made in the PCA accounting procedures, and any future overpayments should not be as dramatic. Mr. Cooley noted that the meeting opened a line of communication between PCA and the school system, which will be valuable in the future. In response to a board member’s question about the tabling of the item, Mr. Vidrine reminded board members that during the committee meetings, board members had been told that a meeting with officials from PCA was scheduled following the committee meetings, but before the board meeting.. In consideration of this, the committee had voted to table the item, pending the outcome of that meeting, and Mr. Vidrine noted that action would still need to be discussed and recommended by the Finance Committee in its November meeting.
Moving on to the last item on the agenda, “To consider going into Executive Session under LA R. S. 42:17 to receive a compilation of the Superintendent’s evaluation results,” Cassie Henry offered a motion to go into Executive Session under LA R. S. 42:17 to receive a compilation of the Superintendent’s evaluation results, which was seconded by Kathy Bruner. Upon voting, the motion was approved and the board moved into Executive Session. Upon motion of Don Gray, seconded by Kathy Bruner, board members voted to come out of Executive Session and back into regular session. No action resulted from the Executive Session.
There being no further business, upon motion of Kathy Bruner, seconded by Wesley Taylor, the board meeting was adjourned by general consent.
Special Board Meeting: October 19, 2017
PROCEEDINGS OF THE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD OF THE PARISH OF BEAUREGARD, STATE OF
LOUISIANA, TAKEN AT A SPECIAL MEETING HELD THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017.
The Parish School Board of Beauregard Parish met in Special Session onThursday, October 19, 2017,
beginning at 9:00 o'clock (9:00) am, in the Beauregard Parish School Board Central Office, at 202 W. Third
Street, DeRidder, LA., pursuant to the following written notice given to each and every member thereof and
duly posted in the manner required by law:
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a SPECIAL MEETING of the Beauregard Parish School Board of the Parish
of Beauregard, State of Louisiana, has been ordered and called and will be held on Thursday, October 19,
2017, beginning at 9:00 o'clock (9:00) am, in the Beauregard Parish School Board Central Office, at 202 W.
Third Street, DeRidder, LA.
*1. To hear the appeal of the superintendent designee's decision of expulsion of student "B.L." and the
alternative placement of student "B.L." in the Beauregard Alternative Program.
*2. The Beauregard Parish School Board may vote to go into Executive Session pursuant to LA R. S.
42:17 (A)(7) for the purpose of hearing an appeal of the superintendent designee's decision of
expulsion of student "B.L." and the alternative placement of student "B.L." in the Beauregard
Board members present were President David Vidrine, Vice-President Darrin Manuel, Ray Bowman, L. D.
Spears, Cassie Henry, Wesley Taylor, Kathy Bruner, Timothy Hudson, and Don Gray. Martha Jackson was
Timothy J. Cooley, Superintendent, was present and acted as secretary.
The invocation and pledge were led by Chris Greene.
David Vidrine opened the meeting by announcing that he would accept a motion to adopt the agenda as
presented. Upon motion of Cassie Henry, seconded by Wesley Taylor, board members voted in favor of
adopting the agenda as presented.
Following agenda adoption, Mr. Vidrine read the first agenda item, "To hear the appeal of the
superintendent designee's decision of expulsion of student "B.L." and the alternative placement of student
"B.L." in the Beauregard Alternative Program," and requested that Superintendent Cooley explain the purpose
of the meeting.
Superintendent Tim Cooley stated that the first order of business would be to determine whether Mr. Jason
LaTurner wished to have his appeal of the superintendent designee's decision of expulsion of student "B.L."
and the alternative placement of student "B.L." in the Beauregard Alternative Program, heard in open meeting
or in Executive (closed) Session. Mr. LaTurner stated that he was fine with having the appeal heard in open
session. After stating his name and address, Mr. LaTurner advised board members that in a disciplinary
hearing on September 29, his son (referred to as "B. L."), a senior, was expelled from South Beauregard High
School (SBHS) for possession of marijuana and assigned to Beauregard Alternative Program (BAP.)
According to Mr. LaTurner, his son was not in possession of marijuana at all, but a small zipper-seal plastic
bag was found in his vehicle. Mr. LaTurner objects in general to the assignment to Beauregard Alternative
Program. Mr. LaTurner explained that during the disciplinary hearing various types of evidence were offered,
including unsigned statements, current grades, EOC test scores, and ACT test scores, but no proof that B. L.
was implicated in the use of controlled substances, as was stated in the disciplinary hearing, and ultimately
BAP was seen as a way for B. L. to continue his education. Mr. LaTurner explained that on the day of the
incident in the school parking lot, B. L. failed to arrive home at the customary time of 12:30 pm., and upon
calling the school, Mr. LaTurner states that his wife was instructed to call the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's
Office. According to Mr. LaTurner, the sheriff's office referred the parents back to the school, and they were
subsequently asked to come up to the school. Mr. LaTurner asserted that the school did not attempt to
contact either parent, in violation of board policy, which states that an attempt will be made to contact a
parent. Further, Mr. LaTurner stated that a staff person at SBHS shared the details of the incident with his
own child, who then shared it with B. L.'s sibling. Mr. LaTurner was cautioned about using the name of a staff
person, when that person had not been given proper advance notice of the hearing. Mr. LaTurner maintained
that the BPSO had obtained his son's records without a warrant, acknowledging that he was told that no
criminal charges would be filed and the school would be allowed to address it as a disciplinary infraction. Mr.
LaTurner expressed his disapproval of the entire sequence of events regarding the way the investigation was
conducted and in closing remarks, Mr. LaTurner stated that B.L. is not enrolled at BAP.
The board's legal counsel, Jimmy Lestage, reminded board members that the bag may not have had
anything measurable in it, but law enforcement could tell that it had contained something, consistent with a
CDS, making it paraphernalia. In response to Mr. LaTurner’s comments that BPSO should have put B. L.’s
statements in writing or recorded it on body cam, Mr. Lestage advised board members that to allow the school
to treat the incident as a disciplinary infraction, rather than as a criminal offense, was actually doing the
family a favor. Mr. LaTurner maintained that his son did not admit possession in the hearing and Mr. Lestage
stated that the decision was based on consideration of not only the statements made by B. L., but also by the
law enforcement officials on scene. Mr. Joslin read an excerpt from the hearing transcript which shows that,
although B. L. indicates that the small plastic bag is not his, he acknowledges that he is responsible for items
left in his vehicle. Board members heard from one of the deputies investigating the incident, Deputy Ben
Pearson. Deputy Pearson relayed the sequence of events leading up to the implication of B. L., including the
use of the narcotics detection K-9. Deputy Pearson advised board members that the plastic bag was a non-
standard size, too small for a sandwich, not available locally, and consistent with the type of plastic zipper-seal
bags that are associated with the distribution of illegal narcotics. Mr. LaTurner questioned the deputy
regarding B. L.’s reaction and statements made by his son and whether this observation and B. L.’s
statements had been put into a written police report. Mr. LaTurner was advised that since the sheriff’s office
had made the decision to allow the matter to be handled by the school system, a written report was not
mandated, as would have been required if it had become a criminal investigation.
In response to a board member’s comment that attending BAP would allow him to continue his education
and deter him from running in the same circles that led to his involvement with the individuals who may be
using drugs or engaging in other risky behaviors, Mr. LaTurner stated that expulsion should not be the only
option. In addition, Mr. LaTurner advised board members that B. L. had been withdrawn from the Beauregard
Parish School System and requests that board members remove the expulsion for possession of marijuana
from his record, to prevent it from impacting B. L.’s career choices in the future. In response to a board
member’s inquiry, Superintendent Cooley clarified that if he chose to return to the public school system in the
future, it would be necessary for him to complete his assignment to the alternative setting, before being
allowed to return to the regular setting.
Mr. Vidrine commented that he was convinced that the administration at every level had the best interests
of B. L. in mind, noting that policy says the student “...shall be expelled,” but that alternative placement allows
for the uninterrupted continuation of the student’s education. Mr. Vidrine suggests that possibly the wording
of the letter needed to be re-examined and Superintendent Cooley assured board members that legal counsel
would be consulted regarding the wording.
Board members were advised that they had three options for action: 1) To uphold the decision of the
superintendent’s designee, 2) To overturn the decision of the superintendent’s designee, or 3) To modify the
decision of the superintendent’s designee. Wesley Taylor stated that, based on the testimony presented in
the hearing, he would offer a motion to uphold the original decision, which was seconded by L. D. Spears.
Upon voting, board members voted to uphold the superintendent designee’s decision of expulsion of student
“B.L.” and the alternative placement of student “B.L.” in the Beauregard Alternative Program.
Upon motion of Kathy Bruner, seconded by Wesley Taylor, the meeting was adjourned.