EBR board taps Mary Lynch to fill unexpired term

After three rounds of voting, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted 7-3 Thursday to pick Mary Lynch over Raymond Allmon to become the District 11 representative.

She will serve the remainder of the term of Randy Lamana, who died on April 16 from an apparent heart attack.

The board on Thursday voted 6-5 to hire Redistricting LLC to redraw School Board maps 18 months after the board last redrew lines for board member districts in the wake of the 2010 Census.

Voting for the hire were Connie Bernard, Jill Dyason, Craig Freeman, Barbara Freiberg, David Tatman and Evelyn Ware-Jackson.

Voting no were Lynch, Jerry Arbour, Vereta Lee, Kenyetta Nelson-Smith and Tarvald Smith.

The spur for this is a combination of legislative efforts to reduce the size of the School Board from 11 to 7 members in time for this fall’s election, and the desire of some board members to reduce the board to at least nine members. The hope is that if the board does it on its own, it might persuade the Legislature to hold off. Opponents think 11 is small enough; the board shrank from 12 to 11 members in 2010.

The decision to appoint Lynch to the board came down to two choices: her and Allmon.

Allmon, a managing city director with the parent group Stand For Children, ran against Lamana in 2010 for the District 11 seat but fell 464 votes of winning.

Lynch works part time for St. Thomas More Catholic Church, but also has worked periodically through the years as a substitute teacher and librarian in Baton Rouge public schools. She has a daughter who graduated from Baton Rouge Magnet High and a son who is an eighth-grader at Westdale Middle School.

Seven people submitted their names to replace Lamana, but two, Julie Dupuis and Dewitte Hall, pulled out of contention prior to the vote.

Two other individuals, Terry C. Landry Jr. and George Steimel, sought the job but no board members nominated them.

The retired director of facilities, Robert “Bob” Cooper, was nominated but failed to advance past the second round of voting.

Board members Bernard, Dyason and Freeman ultimately shifted their votes from Cooper to Lynch, ensuring her winning the post on the 7-3 vote. The three were Freiberg, Tatman and Ware-Jackson.

Lynch will serve until Dec. 31.

District 11 includes the northeast corner of the parish but stretches south into the Broadmoor area. It excludes Central, which formed its own school district in 2007.

Lynch said her own experience in education shows that schools should not be treated the same.

“My responsibility is never to accept a one-size-fits-all education,” Lynch said. “What works in New Orleans and other parishes in Louisiana won’t necessarily work here.”

Allmon was seen by some as a divisive figure. He has said in the past that he is amassing a slate of candidates to run against most of the sitting members of the School Board, claiming Stand For Children can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect its slate.

Allmon has said he changed positions recently at Stand For Children and will no longer be involved in the effort to recruit and help candidates run for school boards in both Baton Rouge and Jefferson Parish.

James Finney, a board watcher, said Allmon is a nice guy, but urged the board to reject his candidacy because of some of the positions Allmon has taken.

“A vote for Raymond is a vote against magnet programs and would be a disgrace to Mr. Lamana’s memory,” Finney said.

Earlier in the meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution in honor of Lamana. Several speakers gave emotional farewells to Lamana.

“I know there are a lot of tears, but we have many happy memories of Mr. Lamana,” said Janet Shows, principal at Northeast Elementary.