Baton Rouge lawmaker wants state education department probe

State Rep. Alfred Williams, D-Baton Rouge, said he wants Inspector General Stephen Smith to investigate the state Department of Education, including allegations that the agency mishandled a possible award for Parkview Elementary School.

“The Louisiana Department of Education enjoys very little credibility in this state,” Williams said in his letter, which is dated March 24.

Last week Williams and state Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said they were puzzled that department officials delayed for three weeks nominating A-rated Parkview for the national Blue Ribbon of Excellence honor after nominating four other schools earlier.

Department officials said the delay happened because the agency was doing an audit of the East Baton Rouge Parish school system’s graduation records, which has triggered another controversy.

Smith noted that the audit involved high schools, not elementary schools.

In his letter, Williams also charged that there is “extensive manipulation” by the department of school performance scores in the Recovery School District, individual charter schools and district performance scores.

The lawmaker also said attention is needed on how the agency allocates federal funds to Recovery School District schools.

Barry Landry, a spokesman for the department, said in an email response to a question that the agency “has not spoken with or been contacted by the Inspector General’s office about this.”