Board tables vote  on redistricting plan

PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish School Board will continue debate on its future makeup Dec. 17 after tabling its vote to approve a new 13-member redistricting plan earlier this week.

The proposed maps will be posted online and be available in the School Board chambers. The board’s decision came after a public hearing Monday where Glenn Koepp of Redistricting LLC presented several redistricting mock-ups.

Koepp said his firm drafted several redistricting plans which included 13-member models as well a nine-member model — eight members and an at-large position — several School Board members requested.

Board member Darlene Ourso told Koepp she took issue with most of the proposed plans for her district because she would be representing the Plaquemine area instead of White Castle.

“I think it was personal,” Ourso said to Koepp during Monday’s public hearing. “But it’s going to be OK. I’ll be right here fighting this.”

Ourso also presented Koepp with documented evidence that the board should be approving a nine-member redistricting plan to be in compliance with a 2010 Louisiana law that calls for the reduction of the board from 15 to nine members.

The law was spearheaded through the state Legislature by former Sen. Rob Marionneaux of Grosse Tete.

In July, Koepp told the School Board it could ignore the state law because it had not received pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ourso presented a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice, which had not approved the law because 2010 Census data was uncalculated. The School Board also had not submitted a nine-member redistricting plan, the Sept. 22 letter says.

“They’re waiting on this board to present a district map for pre-clearance,” Ourso said.

Board member Brain Willis reminded the board that it had already voted to reduce the School Board from 15 to 13 members last month.

In an unrelated item, the School Board unanimously decided Monday to hold a special election in April 2013 to fill the vacant seat of Albertha Hasten.

Hasten died Nov. 19. The board unanimously appointed Hasten’s sister, Earthley Baptiste, as a replacement until the special election.