Resident takes Iberville School District to task

A resident criticized the Iberville Parish School Board and Superintendent Ed Cancienne on Monday, saying the school district is allocating more of its resources and attention toward the parish’s more affluent students while ignoring the plight of children from lower income families.

In an impassioned statement, Ferrante Dominique chided school district officials on their lack of accountability, unfair treatment of teachers and paraprofessionals, lack of after-school programs and the C the district earned from the state in its performance report.

“We are spending more money per child than those parishes that are A and B school districts,” Dominique said. “The poor students are bearing the burden of the richer students. Dr. Cancienne has done some great things, but the funds have been focused mainly on the Math, Science, and Arts Academy-West campus.”

In a letter to school district officials dated April 7, Dominique, who is an employee of the Iberville school system, wrote that his views are representative of an organization called Men Above Men and a newly formed group of Iberville educators called Unmasking the Power of One.

In his address to the board, Dominique pointed out his frustration with the district’s lack of accountability by referencing its Monday night decision to amend its 2013-14 operating budget by nearly $800,000 in penalty fees the board must pay back to the Universal Service Administrative Co. for failing to meet federal compliance standards tied to grant funding the district received.

The school district was cited in a 2010 audit for not being able to produce supporting documentation associated with the grant, an issue that resulted in a 30-minute back-and-forth debate between School Board members and the administrative staff.

Dominique’s address also touched on comments Chief Financial Officer Jolain Landry made to the board Monday night that the school district would lose an estimated $4.7 million in local funding through the state’s Minimum Foundation Program within the first year of operation of the new Iberville Charter Academy.

Landry told the board that the charter school, set to open in fall 2014, will pull its initial funding mostly from the MFP dollars the state will allocate toward the education of each of its students. That money would normally go to the school district, she said.

“The Iberville Carter School should be a moment of repentance for this school district,” Dominique said. “Let’s make the charter school pack their bags and leave. We have the money to do it. I challenge the board to collaborate and stop fighting over small things.”

The board adjourned its meeting after Dominique spoke.