Hymel accuses school staff of tardiness

Published 6:46 am Friday, June 17, 2016

A routine Bogalusa school board meeting Wednesday devolved into anger, when school board member Calvin Hymel began yelling at Bogalusa High School athletic director Kenneth Martin after a perceived insult.

Martin was addressing the board about two concerns — the extra month of payment coaches receive, and public criticism of school policy. Martin also gets an extra month of payment.

Martin said coaching staff members get an extra month of pay, because athletic training continues through the summer.

“We could not compete in band, football, basketball and baseball if the coaches could not work in the summertime,” he said.

After that, Martin said school board members should find out “all the information” before they complain about the school system. In addition, Martin said if board members have complaints, they should not make these complaints public.

“We have to promote ourselves and promote the positive,” Martin said. “I don’t know no board nowhere that airs stuff without finding all the information.”

Martin said if anyone has any complaints, they should take it up with the person responsible for the issue.

“People want to support us,” he said. “But when they hear the negatives, all they’re gonna remember is that one negative thing you say, especially if it comes out of our leadership’s mouth. Bogalusa City Schools is a great school system. We got a great superintendent and we got great teachers throughout the system, so let’s get behind them and lock into them when we can.”

During the final portions of Martin’s remarks, Hymel tapped a pencil loudly with obvious frustration. After Martin took his seat, Hymel spoke up, and said when someone gets up in a meeting and talks about him, he should get a chance to respond.

Hymel complained that even though teachers and staff are supposed to be working over the summer at the high school, they’re not actually working.

“I went to the school Tuesday morning and there was five people who hadn’t signed in and it was 8 o’clock,” he said. “The principal wasn’t there at 8 o’clock.”

Hymel raised his voice, and acting board president Paul Kates had to gavel Hymel to order.

“Come on Calvin, let’s cut it out,” Kates said.

“You can’t get up here and talk about me,” Hymel yelled at Martin.

“Let’s let it be. We don’t need no controversy,” Kates said.

Martin pointed out that sometimes coaches and staff work late, because summertime heat means workouts must take place later in the day, so they don’t arrive right at 8 a.m.

After the argument, the board moved on to routine business.

The board approved its financial statements and a revised budget for May and then it approved a resolution authorizing advertising for bids for the installation of perforated stainless steel hurricane shutters for the high school. The district is partnering with the parish government to access state funding for the project.

Finally, the board approved a high school cheerleader summer camp in Gulf Shores, Ala., in late July.

“I hope we diligently watch our children and chaperone or children correctly because so many things are happening on beaches and lakes and things such as this,” Kates said. “We don’t need no accidents.”

Superintendent Toni Breaux had no comments at the end of the meeting. During the school board members’ comments, Hymel asked Martin how many fines the athletics department paid to the state athletics association. Martin said the district had to pay four — one for a fight after a football game, two for basketball issues and one for a baseball issue.

Later in the meeting, Raymond Mims said he would like the district to figure out a way to better serve disruptive students.

“We cannot afford to let a few kids disrupt the entire system,” Mims said.

Mims said troubled youth need to be identified and the district needs to meet with their parents and then develop an educational program that is suited to their needs.

“Somehow we got to get these kids out of the system and find out what their interests are,” he said. “Maybe it’s trade school. Maybe they don’t want to go to college. We can’t throw them away, we got to do something for them, but we got to find out what their interests are.”

Finally, Kates said he hopes the district’s image will change in the eye of the public.

“We say we’re one — well, we have to be as one. And we have to change our image and let the public know we’re trying to move our school system forward,” he said.

Board president Curtis Creel, and board members Adam Kemp and Brad Williams were absent.