AMITE — The number of black teachers and the racial makeup of student populations in Tangipahoa Parish public schools remain top concerns, the district’s court-appointed desegregation compliance officer said Tuesday.
The percentage of black teachers in the parish dropped 1.4 percent from February 2011 to March 2012, Arlene Guerin told the School Board.
While new October numbers, not yet compiled, may show that trend reversed, the proportion of black teachers in the parish continues to hover around 20 percent, compared with an overall student population ratio of 50.2 percent black to 49.8 percent white, Guerin said.
In addition, only eight of the district’s 32 schools are considered fully desegregated, with racial majorities of no more than 65 percent of students, Guerin said.
Thirteen of the parish’s schools continue to be considered “one-race schools” with racial majorities of 75 percent or more, she said.
The School Board voted Tuesday to request an open status conference with U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle to discuss the district’s progress toward reaching the goals of its court-ordered desegregation plan.
Board members also may ask Lemelle for guidance on whether changes to the plan are possible.
Board member Brett Duncan has argued that the district’s magnet programs and majority-minority transfers have moved the parish’s schools closer toward desegregation, possibly negating the need to spend $60 million to build three new schools as ordered by the court.
However, board member Al Link has argued the construction may still be necessary to alleviate crowding at several schools where student populations exceed capacity.
The board also voted Tuesday to ask Superintendent Mark Kolwe to provide certain information prior to the status conference, including the numbers and percentages of white and black students, teachers and principals in each school; the capacity and population of each school; and how many temporary buildings are used at each campus.
Other matters taken up by the board include:
CADET RECOGNITION: The School Board and Superintendent Kolwe recognized Ponchatoula High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Cadet Taylor Ransom, who recently received the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement Medal.
Ransom was the sole recipient chosen from among more than 6,000 applicants across the six Southern states encompassing his Marine Corps region, instructor Ira Brown told the board Tuesday.
“He is an outstanding young man in every aspect, and I am very proud of him,” Brown said.