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Meet the Candidates: Lafayette Parish School Board

Meet the Candidates
Posted at 8:19 PM, Oct 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-08 20:34:12-04

Thirteen candidates are vying for positions representing Lafayette Parish's nine school districts.

The candidates shared their qualifications and the goals they plan achieve if elected to represent students, teachers and parents.

Voters from the nine districts will make their choice on Election Day, October 12.

KATC reached out to each of the candidates and compiled short profiles from the information provided. Twelve out of the thirteen candidates responded.

All photos courtesy of The Advocate.

Meet the Candidates

Three candidates, all currently serving as elected officials for their districts, are running unopposed. Those candidates include: Mary Morrison, District 1; Elroy Broussard, District 3; and Justin Centanni, District 6. Centanni did not respond to our request for information in this candidate profile.

Mary Morrison represents District 1. She won her seat in 2014 after a runoff election against Don Gagnard. Morrison has a bachelor’s degree in business and a Master's in Education. She previously served as a Council Woman for Lafayette Consolidated Government and works for South Louisiana Community College as a Student Success Advisor and former instructor.

Since being on the Lafayette Parish School Board, Morrison says she has witnessed tremendous gains relating to student performance and hopes to continue the process of LPSS becoming an “A” district. She plans to continue working with parents, support “Love our Schools”, and be transparent with decisions, budgets, and putting students, teachers, and parents first.

Morrison adds that discipline, safety, and educating children to make sure they are ready for college, and/ or the workforce is what’s most important. Safety challenges have been addressed by assigning all schools with resource officers but the threats via email, text messages, or word of mouth are her concerns. Mary says she also plans for the board to put measures in place related to early childhood education so that children are not left behind. She would like to find ways to work with parents on discipline issues and update the discipline policy.

Elroy Broussard is a lifelong resident of District 3. The Democratic representative was first elected to the District 3 seat in 2014. Since his election, Broussard says he's fought to ensure that all students receive the same quality of education and opportunities for advancement in the educational system.

“I am blessed to be unopposed”, says Broussard. His goal for the next four years is to grow with the new board members. All having the same understanding that they’re responsible for all employees and students, not just the ones in their district.

Elroy says that “In order to be more complete board we must recognize the challenges that plague our educational system.”

- Four candidates are running to represent District 2. The district covers the northern part of Lafayette Parish including Carencro. On the ballot: Tommy Angelle, Wendy Baudoin, Breyone Carter and Stasia Herbert-McZeal.

Tommy Angelle, born and raised in Carencro, is a US Army Veteran and graduate from USL (now UL Lafayette). Angelle holds a BA in Elementary Education, Master's in Administration, and Ed.S in supervision. His career in education includes teaching at Carencro Middle and working as Assistant Principal of Ossun Elementary. Outside of his educational experience he owned and operated his own insurance agency and served as the former Mayor of Carencro.

Angelle says his priority has been and will continue to be academic and social improvements for all students, safe and secure settings for learning and teaching, and an increase in the readiness to learn.

“We must continue our practice of regularly viewing enrollment trends in our district as well as from school to school," says Angelle of recent enrollment increases in District 2. “We need to work with staff, our school communities, and families to consider various options as enrollment shifts occur.”

Tommy Angelle

Stasia Herbert-McZeal, also a District 2 resident has an Associate and bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Masters in English from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She also received her Doctorate in Psychology from Capella University.

If elected, Stasia wants to focus on making the Board and central office administrators accessible to all parents, staff and students. She plans to make sure schools that are in the transformation zone are educating the student also, not just trying to increase the school grade.

Stasia finds that the biggest challenge is the perception of success by the board members. A school’s success should not be determined by a letter grade and they should be treated individually rather than as a group. “What works in District 9 will not work at a school in District 2 because we may not have the same issues or needs.” she says. Her plan is to actively listen to the parents and teachers in the system and then share concerns with the board members.

Stasia Herbert-McZeal

Wendy Baudoin grew up on her family's farm in Carencro. There she says she developed a strong work ethic that continues in her life today.

If elected Baudoin says that she hopes to oversee the creation of a long-term facilities and maintenance plan along with improving communication and technology for Lafayette Parish.

"As a board member, I will be committed to creating a comprehensive plan to recruit and retain teachers," says Baudoin. It will take a community of voices to create such a plan but I can say that I personally support teacher mentor programs, competitive salary schedules, teacher appreciation events/activities, and improvements to teaching conditions."

Baudoin is currently pursuing her fifth degree.

Wendy Baudoin

Breyone Carter is a career teacher currently teaching in the College of Education at UL Lafayette. A graduate of Northside High, Carter taught at Lafayette High for six years before taking her current position at the university.

If elected, Carter says that she hopes to bring autonomy back to the teachers and implement best practices to allow for capable teachers to become effective practitioners.

Carter says a lack of experience in classrooms and schools by current district board members are major issues facing education in Lafayette Parish.

Breyone coaches cheerleading at Northside High School

Breyone Carter

- LPSS board member Tehmi Chassion will face off against Erica Williams for the District 4 board seat. The two ran against each other in 2014, when Chassion won re-election. If Chassion wins, this will be his third term representing District 4. Chassion has not responded to KATC for information in this candidate profile.

Tehmi Chassion

Erica Williams is a professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She has a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, a Master’s in Public Administration, and currently completing a Doctorate degree in Public Policy Management and Leadership.

Williams says she hopes to bring restoration to the school board on all levels. Wanting to focus on improving the student performance in all schools across the parish. Giving the teachers an opportunity to express their views in an environment free of retaliation and intimidation is a part of her priority list.

Transparency, communication issues and resource allocation are all challenges Erica wants to contribute to changing. It is imperative that the board uses transparency and inclusion. Also, a breakdown in communication so that teachers wishes are being heard. With limited resource, difficult decisions must be made to benefit the system, using a clear priority list as a roadmap.

Erica Williams

- Two candidates are running to represent District 7 on the Lafayette Parish School Board. The candidate elected will replace Dawn Morris who announced that she would not be running for re-election. District 7 covers parts of Broussard and Lafayette and surrounds Cpl. Michael Middlebrook Elementary and Comeaux High School.

Eva Green retired after 30 years of teaching. She taught in Vermillion Parish and Lafayette Parish before becoming a librarian. She served as a youth minister for nine years where she traveled with students across the U.S. to serve the less fortunate.

Eva says she hopes to help change Louisiana's position as the lowest ranked educational system with one of the highest high school drop out rates in the U.S.

“To do that we must think outside of the box," she says.

Eva adds that she wants to investigate what makes other states so successful in their graduation rates and test scores and plans to help build the education system as well as rebuilding old schools. She says involving the parents and considering their concerns are important factors.

Eva Green

Kate Bailey Labue is a native of Lafayette and mother of two public school students. She believes that learning is the only path to growth. If elected, Labue plans to tackle transportation issues for the parish and focusing on a strategic growth plan with clear objectives.

"By resolving transportation issues, more students will be able to participate in the magnet academies because buses are available, and parents will know that when their child boards the school bus, they have a seat and will arrive safely," Labue said.

She also plans to put in place a "dynamic Superintendent" who will work with teachers and staff and create a network of support. Labue hopes to gain more funding for the school system and expand career readiness for students.

Kate Bailey Labue

- Two candidates are running to represent District 8 on the Lafayette Parish School Board replacing Erick Knezek. Candidate Hannah Smith Mason did not respond to KATC's request for information on this candidate profile.

Hannah Smith Mason

Diana Lennon is a legal assistant has been in Lafayette Parish for over 30 years. She says she is passionate about public education and changing it for all.

If elected, Lennon says she plans to rebuild Lafayette High School, narrow the achievement gap through Kindergarten readiness, build trust with the community and ensure teachers have enough time for morning and afternoon breaks.

Hiring a new, qualified, and permanent superintendent is on the top of Lennon’s priority list when contributing to the correction of challenges the school system faces. She wants to continue to build trust with the community by listening to what they say, find solutions for better transportation, promote kindergarten readiness and more.

To address enrollment challenges, Lennon wants to determine the capacity of the school and the number of students at each school, as well as those in the given program. If the choice is to rezone the school or moving programs to balance capacity, she wants to carefully weigh each of the outcomes which could result from the choices that are made. “Many times, groups switching schools is more practical than rezoning.”

Diana Lennon

- Three Republican candidates are running to represent schools in the Youngsville and surrounding area as District 9’s Lafayette Parish School Board member.

Donald Aguillard graduated from U.L with a bachelor’s degree, he started his career teaching and later earned his master’s degree from U.L and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from LSU. During his 43- year career in education, he taught science, was an assistant principal, principal, central office director and superintendent.

If elected, his focus would be to consider what parents want: smaller class sizes, reduced expenses for school supplies, and additional satellite stops for Magnet Academy transportation. Also, to address the “school readiness” gap, greater elective course options for middle school’s students, and expanded high demand Jump Start offerings for high school student.

He is certain that discussions about considerations to alter school attendance zones must take place in a fully transparent and collaborative venue with opportunities to engage stakeholders. “We must consider all potential options to increase student capacity at our schools and allow for future growth- not only rezoning, but other adjustments as well.”

Donald Aguillard

Hubert Gauthier has been in Lafayette Parish since childhood. He has a bachelor’s degree from SNHU. He worked as an on- air talent for KSMB and worked for Black and Decker as an Area Manager. He currently owns a Real Estate Brokerage in Youngseville.

If elected, Gauthier hopes to accomplish fixing transportation issues and begin to finance the expansion of the schools that need expanding. Along with establishing a culture of recruiting and retaining teachers. Taking better care of the employees will result in them being more effective at their jobs.

The main cause of challenges from student increase and decrease in enrollment are the constant rezoning of schools. “They consume a lot of money and it costs more to maintain.”, said Gauthier. Constant rezoning will only result in students being pulled from schools causing their

parents to stress out due to having to pay for new uniforms and supplies while having to constantly learn new surroundings. Gauthier wants better communication throughout the school system. Resources like social media should be used to pass messages to the public.

Hubert Gauthier

Diogo Tavares is a retired army combat veteran. He earned a BA in Political Science from Seton Hall University and an MBA from Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Tavares has four main points that are key to the success in children’s education. To protect children by providing teachers with a safe place to learn, plan for strategic growth to stop rezoning, budget, and maintain accountability.

Diogo is concerned with the shortage of teachers, money and common sense. He plans to work with local industry and organizations to come up with solutions that will make the schools better.

The problem is not being overcrowded, the problem is enforcing the standard and ensuring that students attend the schools that they are zones for. Tavares wants to enforce the standards that are already put in place, not create new standards that create problems

Diogo Tavares

Election Day is October 12.