Lafayette parents tout online tool

Parents have a little extra help staying abreast of the latest Lafayette Parish School Board issues and what’s happening in the district: other parents.

“Parents Empowered: A United Voice for Education,” which has a Facebook page, was created to provide a one-stop source for information that affects students and help school-based parent groups get organized and involved in schools, said Heather Blanchard, the group’s president.

Residents should think of the online forum as a districtwide parent-teacher organization, Blanchard said.

“Our effort is really to be a conduit of information,” said Blanchard, who has three daughters at Woodvale Elementary. “We want to make sure our parents are informed about what’s going on at the School Board level and in their schools.

“We know studies show the more interaction parents have at any level, it is going to improve the system. I truly believe that a lot more parents want to be involved — we just need to give them the avenues to do it.”

The group plans to use social media and also receive input from parents about their questions, concerns and good news about what’s going on throughout the district, Blanchard said.

The group also wants to be a point of contact for parents interested in starting or growing school-based parent organizations.

Blanchard said some schools have parent groups, but they may not be active or they experience waning involvement when a parent leader leaves the school.

A standardization of bylaws and a network to share resources and ideas will help school parent groups thrive, Blanchard said.

Angela Morrison, the district’s director of community collaboration and partnerships, said there’s no other organized districtwide parent group, and the advocacy is encouraging.

“I’m excited about the potential there for the community and us,” Morrison said.

Erin Ryan, one of the group’s organizers, said the group also views its role as sharing the district’s success stories.

Ryan’s daughter is in first grade at J. Wallace James Elementary.

She said that while she and Blanchard are both involved in the community and stay on top of local issues, there are many parents who may need a starting point.

“We’re trying to get the focus back on quality education, which is where it matters,” Ryan said. “The success of a quality education system in Lafayette is vital to our economic growth and our culture. We want to rally behind that and make sure we’re remembering what we’re all here for.

“It’s our system. It’s our School Board and we need to be active in that conversation,” Ryan said.

Connect with Parents Empowered on Facebook at face book.com/ParentsEmpowered Lafayette or by email at parents empowerednow@gmail.com.