Suspended principal to get hearing

Published 2:29 pm Friday, February 28, 2014

The Bogalusa City School Board on Thursday voted unanimously to proceed with a hearing on charges leveled against Central Elementary School Principal Leslie Raborn.

Superintentendent Toni Breaux suspended Raborn more than a week ago, but the charges against her were not known by the School Board or the principal herself until Thursday night.

Board President Adam Kemp said a “yes” vote would mean “a move to the next step where we could hear both sides and be able to make an unbiased opinion according to policy and procedures.”

Eleanor Duke was the first to respond in the roll call vote.

“Let’s hear it,” she said.

Raborn will now be able to answer the charges against her, which were not made public and which board members saw for the first time just minutes before the vote.

Breaux gave board members the multi-paged list of charges and said there would be no discussion before the vote. She also insisted that any member who had spoken to anyone about Raborn prior to the meeting should abstain from voting.

About 10 minutes later, the roll call began. No one abstained, and when voting was done, Kemp asked if the principal had seen the charges. Raborn stood from her seat in the audience and said she had not, and she was told she would be given a copy that night.

The board meeting room was filled with a crowd of mostly Raborn supporters, and the crowd spilled into the hallway. And while the matter was not up for discussion by the School Board, two people in the audience did make comments during the earlier Public Session.

Louisiana Association of Educators Representative Grant Shreiner, who had been in contact with local union members and had met with a large group before the board meeting, said he spoke on behalf of Central Elementary teachers in order to take less time and because some feared retaliation if they spoke.

Shreiner said the teachers “strongly support what the principal has done,” and that Raborn provided stability, a positive attitude and was “very dedicated.”

“To suspend a principal mid-school year is a very, very difficult thing, especially as we head into testing,” he said. “It’s destabilizing.

“I don’t know the charges, but I hope you consider them in balance with the great work she does.”

The current situation, in which the principals from other BCS schools take daily turns as Central principal, is “not good for the kids,” Shreiner said.

“I’m here simply to say that we support Ms. Raborn and would like to see her back,” he said.

April Bruns, a parent of a Central student, then rose to urge fairness.

“I implore all here tonight to be objective and non-discriminating,” she said. “We don’t know the charges, but I want everyone to remember, it’s kids first.

“I applaud Ms. Breaux for what she’s done so far. It’s very tough to manage a school system.”

Raborn has the right to decide whether the hearing, which has been tentatively scheduled for March 25, will be held in public or private.

After the hearing Breaux will make a request of the board, but the board will make the final decision on Raborn’s status.