Breaux: Teachers can talk to board members

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bogalusa City School System teachers were given a paper to sign at the beginning of the school year that they believe forbid them from having contact with any School Board member.

They have said they felt forced to sign it, and not doing so would cause retaliation from system leaders.

But after coming out of an hour-and-a-half executive session between the school board and Superintendent Toni Breaux Monday night, Breaux said that causing fear among employees was clearly not her intention.

“I don’t want teachers to feel intimidated,” she said. “I don’t want them not to speak the truth for fear of retaliation. I don’t retaliate. I do things according to the rules. I have never retaliated. I’m not here to put fear in anybody.”

The paper given to the teachers — as well as board members, at least one confirmed — cited RS 17:18 P. It is a two-page document from Breaux dated Oct. 1, 2013, that addresses the responsibilities of school board members. It also addresses how a school system employee must comply with the policies, procedures and practices and provides that a

failure to comply may result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to termination of employment.

The notice ends with a chain of command for teachers and support staff that starts with their principals then goes to their supervisors and then the superintendent. Principals are advised to go to their supervisors and then the superintendent. And supervisors are told to report directly to the superintendent.

Breaux said she would visit each school to tell teachers that her intention was not to keep them from speaking to board members.

Breaux said she gave the advisories to principals to hand out and that “apparently some delivered them improperly” and some may have “twisted arms to get them to sign.”

“I’m going to every school to try to clarify,” she said. “I’m sorry it got misunderstood. It was not my intention to have anybody afraid of anybody.”

Board President Adam Kemp said the law was passed out with good intention, and that he did not know about how it was delivered. He encouraged system employees to follow the chain of command for personal matters but to come to the board with any concerns or suggestions for improvement.

Those who approach with complaints should also bring a plan for positive action on the issue, Kemp said.

Also following the executive session, it was announced no final hearing date for suspended Central Elementary principal Leslie Raborn had been set, and board members said Breaux would handle that matter.

Breaux suspended Raborn from her job in February for undisclosed reasons. A week later the School Board was presented with the charges against her, and when questioned, Raborn said she had not seen the charges they were looking at. She was told she would receive them that night, and the board voted to proceed with a hearing so that both sides could be heard. That hearing was tentatively set for March 25, but it did not materialize.

The executive session came at the end of the school board’s monthly committee meetings.

During the meeting Breaux told the board she has created a Parent Advisory Council, and that the system will add to its dual enrollment possibilities with LSU, SLU and Northshore Technical and Community College next year.

The board also heard items that will come up for final vote at Thursday’s School Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the central office.

Those include the adoption of the 2014-15 school year calendar and requests for board permission to open the Bogalusa Performing Arts Preparatory School on the former Superior Avenue School site and for the system to apply for the Community Eligibility Provision for school meals.