Smith’s fate may be revealed today | Bogalusa City School Board to discuss superintendent at special meeting

Published 11:15 am Friday, July 27, 2012

Bogalusa City Schools Superintendent Louise Smith may learn her fate during a special school board meeting today at 5 p.m., to be held at the administrative office.

Board members are scheduled to go into executive session to discuss Smith’s contract, which several sources have confirmed likely will not be renewed.

Perhaps more telling is an item on the agenda calling for comments by Acting Superintendent Patricia Noto, rather than Smith. Noto is supervisor of secondary education for the school system.

Smith’s future has been the source of speculation since a meeting last week when board President Paul Kates, in response to a question regarding who will cover the duties of the recently retired assistant superintendent, Kates said, “That will be the superintendent’s… whoever will be our new superintendent… whoever will be the superintendent…”

Smith did not attend the meeting and in fact missed much of that week reportedly because of illness.

Kates did not elaborate at the time but later said the board has to “solve this issue, because we still haven’t resolved the issue. She’s not performing her duties and she’s dropping her tasks on other people. I don’t know where we’re going until we resolve the issues with the superintendent we have now.”

When reached by phone last week Smith refused to comment and attempts to contact her this week by The Daily News have been unsuccessful.

Board members have been attending a conference this week in Biloxi, Miss., and have been unavailable for comment.

Smith, who was hired in July 2011 to replace Ruth Horne, who abruptly resigned earlier that spring, has sparred with several board members, specifically Kates and Calvin Hymel, on a number of issues during the past six months. Most significantly, however, was Smith’s failure to lay off any employees despite a mandate by state Superintendent of Education John White to trim a work force that totals nearly 400 employees.

Hymel and Kates took particular exception to that, and sources said there was a move by at least two board members two months ago when the issue surfaced but it failed to gain traction among other board members.

There has also been some dissension regarding Smith’s implementing the board’s plan to consolidate the two junior high schools into Bogalusa High School beginning with the 2013-14 school year.

Most recently, Smith appeared to anger board members by posting at least one job on the school system’s website that the board agreed would not be filled. Earlier in July a posting on the website said the school was looking for a human resources director/community relations director, a position previously held by Joanna Dillman. Dillman resigned in October and board members said that position was to be eliminated.

Smith, who had never previously been a superintendent, came to Bogalusa from Poplarville, Miss., where she was an assistant superintendent and excelled in grant writing.

(Jan Gibson contributed to this report.)