Democrats come out against EBR School Board redistricting

The executive committee for the East Baton Rouge Parish Democratic Party has come out against proposals up for debate Thursday to reduce the size of the parish School Board.

The local Democratic Party’s opposition to the School Board redistricting follows on the heels of opposition by the local Republican Party, the Louisiana NAACP and the parent group One Community, One School District.

The Democratic Party executive committee vote Tuesday night was unanimous. Not present or voting were members Brandon Decuir, Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards and Tawanda Boatner Green.

The parish School Board is meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday to consider dropping an 11-member plan the board adopted two years ago, which later was approved by the U.S. Justice Department, in favor of a plan with fewer members, ranging from seven to 10, and doing so just weeks before qualifying for the Nov. 4 elections.

The Louisiana NAACP already pledged to sue if any of the five proposed maps the School Board is considering Thursday are approved, saying they would dilute the voting strength of racial minorities.

Dawn Collins, chairwoman of the executive committee, offered a different reason for the committee’s opposition. She noted that the East Baton Rouge Parish school system has jumped 11 spots in state academic rankings and has managed to move most of its schools out of failing status.

“For proponents of these new plans to suggest that changes are needed because the board is ineffective flies in the face of recent outcomes,” she said.

The most prominent supporter of School Board reduction is the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, which sought unsuccessful legislation this spring to force such a reduction.

The executive committee also unanimously voted in favor of the fairness ordinance before the Metro Council that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.

“The capitol city is behind when it should be leading,” Collins said. “New Orleans and Shreveport have already passed laws against discrimination.”