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Nov 12, 2009 12:26 PM by Sarah Rosario

The Rant: Lafayette Parish School Board Out $746,000

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746-thousand dollars is blocked from the Lafayette parish school board by state representative Rickey Hardy. It happened Tuesday in a house-senate education committee meeting. Hardy said it's because the school board never asked him for the money. However, the school board said they thought they were already approved for the money by the state department of education. That's why the cut came as a surprise to them.

This is the first time in twelve years they've been denied this funding. School board members said they didn't know they had to ask permission from Hardy to get the funds.

"Even a baby cries when something is hurt. That's a way of communication. But the adults refuse to pick up the telephone to contact me," said State Representative Dist. 44 Rickey Hardy.

The state representative is referring to the Lafayette parish school system. He says they're out 746-thousand dollars of state education excellence funds, because the school board didn't pick up the phone.

"One would think you have 746 thousand reasons to call but they didn't call," said Hardy.

This falls on director of curriculum and instruction Louise Chargois, she says the requirement is news to her. She did receive an email saying if you wanted to contact your state rep you could.

"Since it had never been done in the past and it was not a requirement of the grant I did not contact anyone but if I would have known that I certainly would have," said Director Louise Chargois. The 746-thousand dollars comes from a 1998 Tobacco Settlement, it's normally used for programs to increase student achievement and drop out prevention.

After hearing this, Hardy sent out press release calling Chargois's statements ludicrous. He then lists several examples of the school boards wasteful spending and says it doesn't look like they need the money. If they did, they would have asked him.

"Its very upsetting that Mr. Hardy would set us up for failure like this, I don't think it's something a sitting legislature should even consider, hurting a school system by denying funding for programs that have been successful to our students," she said. However, the state representative responded by saying his best interest is always for the children.

"I will always work in the interest of children in the state of Louisiana," he said.

The school board has since requested for Hardy to reconsider his decision. If not, they are looking into other ways to get grants to support their programs. If all fails they may have to cut funds.

The school board will discuss ideas of how to save money, and will also review a request to give to state representative Hardy for reconsideration. This will happen at the next school board meeting, Tuesday 17th.

Here is Rickey Hardy's Press Release.

PRESS RELEASE
Office of State Rep. Rickey Hardy
District 44 - Lafayette
November 11, 2009

Everyone knows that the education, safety, and welfare of our children here in Lafayette are matters very near and dear to my heart. With that in mind, the hyperbolic statements by Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Louise Chargois are ludicrous at best. During my more than thirteen years as a member of the Lafayette Parish?School
Board I had to constantly battle the arrogance, as well as the deference to special groups and individuals. The education, safety, and welfare of the students who attend the LPSS did not seem to be a factor for the current board
members and administration.

Just recently, though the criminal backgrounds of a number of LPSS bus drivers were exposed, no policy was established and the entire affair was swept under the rug. That is until a bus driver was arrested for OWI and then,
mere hours later, was driving his school bus loaded with our children.

The LPSS paid $310,000 to a sitting superintendent for him to go home and sit down with that money. That's upsetting to me. Does that sound like a school system that needs money?

The LPSS wants to pay $900,000 to a consultant to do a facility plan? Does that sound like a school system that needs money?

As a board member, I saw to it that contract bus drivers were issued IRS Tax Form 1099s in compliance with federal tax law. As soon as I left the board, measures to repeal that policy and return to the "good 'ol boy" status quo in
violation of the law took place.

When the representative from Baton Rouge was informed that LPSS violated procedure and protocol, she withdrew her motion. It did not fail. She withdrew it. Period.
Schools that are located in my legislative district continue to fail year after year. Yet, the LPSS does nothing but hang window dressing to address this
problem year after year. The continuing arrogance of the LPSS, its continuing failure to follow policy, procedure, and protocol as well as the continuing failure of schools located in Legislative District 44 were all factors in my vote.

We must not continue to reward failure. Accountability for the LPSS starts here.

Rep. Rickey Hardy

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