LAFAYETTE — Twenty-two Northside High teachers are among the 26 displaced as part of the reconstitution, or restaffing, of the low-performing school, Lafayette Parish Superintendent Pat Cooper said Wednesday.
The School Board approved a reconstitution of the school June 6. The move allowed Northside Principal Melinda Voorhies to hand-pick her staff for the upcoming school year.
Of the 65 employees required to reapply for their jobs, 26 were displaced, Cooper said.
Among the displaced teaching personnel were four paraprofessionals or teaching assistants, he said.
Employees are still being notified of their status with the school and Cooper said he would not release a list of displaced employees until everyone was contacted.
“No one is being fired. No one is being terminated,” Cooper said.
Displaced employees who want to stay in the school district have the option to move to vacant positions based on their seniority.
On Wednesday, The Daily Advertiser reported the school’s football coach, Vincent DeRouen, was among the displaced employees and the coach was notified by a message left on his answering machine.
Cooper confirmed DeRouen’s displacement only because the coach confirmed it in the newspaper. The superintendent said employees are being personally contacted.
Decisions to retain some employees and not others was not a personal one, Cooper said, but based on the academic needs of the school.
“This is not about athletics,” Cooper said. “He was one of 26 classroom personnel. This is all about academics and trying to get this school off the bottom. ...
The reconstitution is the next step in the school’s turnaround plan instituted in early February. The turnaround plan involved a new administrative team and nearly $1.9 million in facility improvements.
Reconstitution also enables a school to hit the “restart” button on its state accountability measures.
The school has the lowest attendance and graduation rates among the district’s high schools and also was in danger of being labeled “academically unacceptable” by the Louisiana Department of Education based on student performance factors, such as standardized testing results and graduation rates.
The school’s graduation rate is at 59 percent and its average (composite) ACT score is 13, Cooper said.
The ACT, a college readiness exam, covers English, math, science and reading and writing. A perfect score is 36.
“People need to know this is not about personalities or we’re not even saying displaced teachers are poor teachers,” he said. “We have to give this principal the ability to turn this school around and in order for her to do that, she has to hire the people she wants.”
“If all of these teachers were terrible teachers, we wouldn’t be displacing them, we’d be firing them,” Cooper said. “These teachers will fit in other areas, they’re just not part of the Northside team.”
Voorhies is interviewing candidates for the open positions at the school, which include two clerical positions, Cooper said.
Interest is strong among veteran teachers and some educators who are Northside alumni, he said.
Voorhies likely will have her new team in place by July 15, Cooper said. Classes for the 2012-13 school year start Aug. 10.