Student requests assistance from WPSB

Published 12:54 pm Saturday, November 14, 2015

Addressing the Washington Parish School Board Thursday night, Bowling Green School Student Body President Ashley Foret requested the body rescind an injunction from the 1970’s to allow Bowling Green students to assist with Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics were conducted Nov. 13 at Franklinton High School. The activities were also conducted at Pine High School on Oct. 14. Washington Parish holds Special Olympic events each year, one on each side of the parish.
According to Special Olympics, its mission to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with disabilities, giving them opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
“This summer my friends at Franklinton High School and I cam up with an idea: Why don’t we get our two school to work together for the Special Olympics program held at Franklinton High School?” Foret read from the letter. “To us, it only made sense because many Bowling Green students have friends and even siblings that compete in the games every year. A large group of Bowling Green students, including myself, attend each year to watch anyway, so it only made sense that we offer a helping hand.”
Foret said she then learned of the problem.
“Everything was going great until the adults got involved,” Foret said. “In August, I sent a letter to Franklinton High School Principal (Lisa Tanner) asking if she would consider allowing Bowling Green students to help. In October, having not received a response, I followed up with a call to the principal and was told that we would not be allowed to help because it would be illegal due to the injunction.”
Forest said she soon learned what the injunction was about.
“In this instance, I feel the injunction was used as the knee jerk reaction to keep the kids from working together. What I am confused about is what is why this injunction is still in place. Our schools are making decisions based on a rule that was put in place in 1974, as part of a lawsuit that started in 1965, when circumstances were much different. I am aware of what happened in the past, but I don’t see why it should still be holding students back in 2015. Thankfully, students today cannot relate to the ugly, ugly circumstances under which the injunction was originally put in place because we have grown up in a much different Franklinton, a Franklinton of acceptance, a Franklinton of diversity, and a Franklinton of tolerance. It is my understanding that the injunction is in place to bring the community together, but now it seems to have had the opposite effect.”
Foret said students of all races at each school attend each school’s games and activities.
“What we don’t understand is why the adults can’t seem to work together to fix this injunction that is doing nothing but separating our community,” Foret said. “This injunction casts our entire parish in a negative light. It suggests that our community as a whole has not moved forward since the 60s. We are the only parish in the state with this particular problem. The School Board has the power to remedy this. We are a small town, but we are not small-minded anymore and this injunction allows others to view us that way.”
School Board President Matthew Tate thanked Foret for her remarks and said the Board would respond to her request at a later date.
Regarding Special Olympics, Washington Parish School System students participated in a fundraiser to earn money for Special Olympics. Washington Parish School System Coordinator Olga Jackson presented a check for 2,832 to Louisiana Special Olympics Director of Outreach and Area Management Charlie Courville.
In business matters, the Board adopted:
•  A resolution ordering and calling a special election on April 9, 2016 to authorize the levy of a special tax. The 10-mill tax is for 15 years is expected to raise $950,000 per year. District 5 Board member Robert Boone voted against the measure, but the resolution passed 7-1. District 4 Board member John Breland was absent.
“Asking a few people to raise the money is not in our best interests,” Boone said. “I do have an opinion. I’m not for this.”
When the floor was opened to public participation, others voiced their opposition.
“This is not fair to taxpayers,” Angie resident Reggie Kennedy said. “There ought to be some way to spread it out over the whole spectrum. Enough is enough. You have people leaving Jefferson Davis County (Miss.) and Mobile County (Ala.) because of taxes. We need a tax base, not new taxes. You’re running the tax base off.”
Angie’s Donald Fornea agreed.
“I don’t feel it’s right to put a property tax on just a few people,” Fornea said. “If you’re going to tax, tax everybody, not just a few.”
•  A resolution for nomination of School Board acreage for an oil, gas and mineral lease at the old Angie School. The total area is 6.4 acres.
•  Approving the second allocation of $248,000 to schools in the 2015-2016 operations budget.
• Approving $11,808 in restricted allocations for some schools in lieu of paying for water/sewage.
•  Approval of new School Board policy guidelines concerning employee communicable diseases, guidelines for handling body fluids in school, and student identification.
• A motion for a new job description for those who work with special education students as a special education coach for grades 6-12.
Near the end of the meeting, the Board recognized Superintendent Darrell Fairburn. He was recently named Louisiana Association of School Superintendents Superintendent of the Year from among 69 school districts. He will be recognized at a convention in Baton Rouge on Monday.
Also, the school system was recognized with a certificate from the Department of Health and Hospitals declaring the system as a WellSpot. A Wellspot is part of the Well-Ahead Louisiana Imitative, which encourages healthy behavior and designates organizations as Wellspots, or healthy places that embrace health and wellness.
The Board also heard from Kathy Edmonston, who is in the runoff on Nov. 21 for BESE District 6.

DAILY NEWS PHOTO/Randy Hammons Washington Parish School District Coordinator Olga Jackson (left) presents a check to Louisiana Special Olympics Director of Outreach and Area Management Charlie Courville.

Washington Parish School District Coordinator Olga Jackson (left) presents a check to Louisiana Special Olympics Director of Outreach and Area Management Charlie Courville.