School Board offers third set of hearings on proposed deseg plan
AMITE—A third round of public hearings are pending as the Tangipahoa Parish School Board takes yet another shot at developing a consensus plan to end the more than 50-year federal desegregation lawsuit against the school district.
The nine-member board voted “without objection” Tuesday night to release and publish its “draft action plan” which outlines the steps that must be taken by the defendant board to meet federal standards and result in the long-sought “unitary status” that would potentially end federal oversight of the rural school system.
Last month the federal court ordered the board to develop an action plan to resolve the longstanding Joyce Marie Moore v. TPSS case. The court requires the board to seek not only public input on that plan but also expects board attorneys to work with the plaintiffs in developing a mutually consented proposal.
Board member Brett Duncan told reporters following Tuesday’s meeting that the first public draft of that plan will be available online through the school system’s website, www.TangiSchools.org on Wednesday morning.
Duncan said not much has changed in terms of their preferred student assignment proposal between the so-called “Duncan Plan,” also known as the “Better Plan” which the board introduced last year and the now-dubbed “Alternative Plan” which the Board will showcase in a series of public hearings set for the week after Thanksgiving. Duncan said the action plan calls for motions for unitary status in the area of hiring to be submitted by the end of the 2014-15 school year, and a motion to seek implementation of the “Alternative Plan” instead of the board’s wildly unpopular 2010 deseg plan as soon as attorneys are able to prepare the documents.
The question of when the public might hear of a final resolution to the case, which started in the late 1960, lay dormant through the 1990s and was reactivated by the Greater Tangipahoa Parish NAACP in 2007, is far murkier.
Duncan said the case cannot be settled until the district reaches a consensus on its student assignment plan and implements that plan successfully for at least three years. When pressed for specifics, Duncan agreed that the earliest possible date the system could reach that point is potentially four or more years away.
Duncan said the first step to that process is to once again seek input, and he encouraged the public to read and ask questions about the action plan, which will be posted and available online. He said public hearings will be slated for the week of Dec. 1, and all suggestions and revisions will be brought back to the board for consideration at their Dec. 9 meeting.