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Wasting no time, new Pointe Coupee superintendent sets ambitious agenda for improving parish’s schools

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- New Pointe Coupee Parish Schools superintendent Kevin Lemoine, left, talks Wednesday about physical changes occurring to the Livonia High School cafeteria, and possible procedural changes in the flow of students through the cafeteria, during a site tour with school principal Stacy Gueho, right, on Lemoine's first official day as the new superintendent.

In his first week as Pointe Coupee Parish’s new school superintendent, Kevin Lemoine has already toured all five of the district’s campuses, met with principals and key staff and started crunching numbers for the district’s next fiscal year budget. And it looks like things won’t be slowing down any time soon for the 51-year-old educator.… Continue reading →

Many leaders pin hopes on Warren Drake to reverse discontent over schools that fueled push to create City of St. George

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- The ascension of Warren Drake to EBR School Superintendent has raised hopes anew that he can do what others have failed to, to heal the breach in this city over public education that led to the St. George incorporation movement. Unlike past superintendents, Drake is a local son, a respected educator, a former principal of BR high school and former supt. of the top-rated Zachary school district.

As the fight over St. George shifts to the courts, many local leaders are pinning their hopes on new East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake to reverse the discontent over the schools that led to the push to create a new city with an independent school system. They’re hoping the 63-year-old Drake will be able to… Continue reading →

Feud simmering between four-year and two-year colleges over state funding distribution

State funding for Louisiana’s colleges and universities became a unifying force in the most recent legislative session, but behind the scenes, animosity has been simmering over a disparity in the way two-year and four-year institutions are funded. Leaders on the community college level say the state funds have been distributed to “keep doors open” at four-year colleges,… Continue reading →

LSU Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss to step down in August, cites 'major policy differences with a vocal segment of the faculty'

Advocate Photo by April Buffington --  Jack Weiss, chancellor of the LSU Law Center, speaks to the board of supervisors in April 2010.

Jack Weiss, head of the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, is stepping down as law chancellor and dean in August in the wake of conflicts with faculty, some of whom had advocated for his ouster. “I am proud of the many positive developments at the Law Center during my eight years as chancellor and look… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board gives initial nod to expanding Manners of the Heart character education program to 15 schools

A Baton Rouge-based character education program got a boost Thursday as the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board recommended expanding it from two to 15 schools this fall. The expansion would cost about $500,000 a year, of which about $300,000 would be paid for by the school system. The initiative has the support… Continue reading →

LSU breaks its silence on fired professor, says verbal abuse and intimidation were the reasons for the firing, not only her use of vulgar language

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU professor Teresa Buchanan says she was dismissed in a 'witchhunt' over her occasional use of profanity in the classroom.

LSU broke its silence Wednesday about the June 19 firing of associate professor Teresa Buchanan, saying she was fired not only for isolated incidents of using curse words and making sexually themed jokes but also because of “documented evidence of a history of inappropriate behavior that included verbal abuse, intimidation and harassment of our students.” In… Continue reading →

Special ed diploma plan unveiled by the Louisiana Department of Education

Students with significant disabilities would have a pathway to a high school diploma under a plan unveiled Tuesday by the state Department of Education. The proposal is in the form of a waiver request submitted by the state to federal officials, who review changes to ensure compliance with federal law. If approved, it would, for the… Continue reading →

National organization defends LSU professor fired for spicy language, risqué jokes

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU professor Teresa Buchanan says she was dismissed in a 'witchhunt' over her occasional use of profanity in the classroom.

The top national organization of university professors on Tuesday urged LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander to reconsider the recent firing of associate professor Teresa Buchanan, saying it places the university well outside of the “mainstream of our secular research universities.” The LSU Board of Supervisors on June 19 carried out Alexander’s recommendationContinue reading →

Governor candidate John Bel Edwards says schools chief John White needs to go

Advocate Photo by VERONICA DOMINACH--John Bel Edwards answers questions during the Louisiana gubernatorial candidate forum at the Alario Center in Westwego on Wednesday, June 18, 2015.

Democrat John Bel Edwards said Sunday night that, if he is elected governor, he would oppose state Superintendent of Education John White remaining in his post. “I have no intention of allowing John White, who isn’t qualified to be a middle school principal, to remain as superintendent when I am governor,” Edwards said in a prepared… Continue reading →

LSU professor fired for using salty language in classroom claims she's ‘witch hunt’ victim, plans suit

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU professor Teresa Buchanan sorts the trash from the treasure as she packs up the office she's had at LSU for the past 14 years. She was dismissed after she was accused of sexual harassment of students but says the allegations aren't true.

An LSU associate professor has been fired for using curse words and for telling the occasional sexually-themed joke to undergraduate students, creating what university administrators describe as a “hostile learning environment” that amounted to sexual harassment. A faculty committee that reviewed her case gave a few “notable” examples: Saying “F*** no” repeatedly in the presence of… Continue reading →

Pointe Coupee School Board halts pending lawsuit against the state, bids farewell to Superintendent Linda D’Amico

Advocate  Staff Photo by  Mark Saltz   August 4, 2009  Trax # 00018156a Super Search Linda D'Amico mugshot as the Pointe Coupee School Board interviews five finalist for the Superintendent job on August 4, 2009.

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board on Thursday put the brakes on pending litigation to recoup more than $1 million from the state’s Recovery School District, which the school district intended to use for much-needed repairs at Pointe Coupee Central High School. The board made the unanimous decision after… Continue reading →

Radical changes to Louisiana public schools under Bobby Jindal, but what have been the impacts?

Republican presidential candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks with Stephen Rodrigueze during a campaign stop at Saint Anselm College, Thursday, June 25, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Gov. Bobby Jindal radically overhauled Louisiana’s public schools, but disputes remain on the impact. Jindal, who is touting his education record in his bid for the 2016 presidential nomination, spent much of his second-term political capital in 2012 when he rammed three sweeping bills through the Legislature that changed the way public schools operate in… Continue reading →

Why new Lee High tied to LSU will be 'something no one has seen' in Louisiana, looks more like slick office complex than school

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Earl Kern, right,  program manager fro CSRS/Tillage Construction, chats with Principal Nan McCann, left and Warren Drake, acting Schools Superintendent during  a tour of the new Lee High School construction site Monday.

Still months away from completion and more than a year from opening, the new Lee High School is resembling less a high school and more a Silicon Valley office complex. The plans for what will happen inside the four large buildings sprouting up along Lee Drive, though, could prove even more unusual. Organizers are developing what… Continue reading →

Officials in early talks to toughen academic standards for public schools to earn 'A' rating

State education leaders Friday began preliminary talks on how to toughen academic standards and make it harder for public schools to earn an A rating. “We do need to figure out what is that path,” said Jessica Baghian, assistant superintendent for assessments and accountability. Baghian made her comments to the Accountability Commission, a panel of educators,… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board adopts Warren Drake’s budget; major changes coming to school district

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system on Thursday unanimously approved a $461 million general operating budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, in the process spending some $30 million more than the school system expects to take in. Incoming Superintendent Warren Drake, however, is looking into ways to cut costs. The first cut, his Continue reading →

Some Louisiana universities to test new admission standards

After three meetings and hours of debate, the state Board of Regents on Wednesday agreed to test new admissions standards for some of Louisiana’s universities. The new policy isn’t as far-reaching as some had been aiming for, but supporters say it could help more students go to college. “The goal is to… Continue reading →

Louisiana's education chief John White gets positive job review from BESE

State Superintendent of Education John White got a favorable review Wednesday from Louisiana’s top school board. The announcement followed a 20-minute closed-door session of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which does the annual evaluation. White, in a message on Twitter, said his overall rating was 3.3 out of 4. That puts him… Continue reading →

Incoming schools chief Warren Drake to eliminate 34 Central Office positions, create 9, saving $1 million from East Baton Rouge payroll

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Warren Drake leaves the podium smiling after speaking before the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board after they unanimously voted the former Zachary Superintendent to the position of superintendent within the parish school system, Thursday, Apr. 2, 2015, at their offices on S. Foster Drive.

Incoming East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake is asking the School Board on Thursday to approve a Central Office reorganization that would trim about $1 million from the school system payroll. “It’s still a work in progress,” Drake said Tuesday. “We’re going to finalize it probably tomorrow.” The reorganization would substantially change the setup… Continue reading →

Common Core back on BESE agenda

The volatile debate on how to revise Common Core is out of the Legislature but far from settled. A committee of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday is set to approve 101 nominees to four panels that will spend weeks reviewing the new academic benchmarks. Those recommendations will go to BESE… Continue reading →

In session of budget woes public schools show gains

Despite huge state budget problems, public schools emerged with modest gains from the 2015 Louisiana Legislature, including a $36 million hike in state aid approved on the final day of the session. The increase marks just the third such boost since 2008 and generally fulfills what the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education sought in March.… Continue reading →

Ray Belton named new Southern University System leader

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Ray Belton, center, accepts congratulations from Southern University System Board of Supervisors member Rev. Samuel Tolbert, Jr., right, after the board named Belton as the new system president and chancellor on Friday. Belton was Chancellor at Southern University Shreveport, but will take over for Southern University President Ron Mason on Monday.

Ray Belton has spent 27 years working his way up from Southern University faculty member to chancellor of the two-year Shreveport campus. On Monday, the Southern alumnus will take on the top job at the historically black university system — president and chancellor. “I think I’m almost a by-product of what our mission speaks to,”… Continue reading →

Incoming schools superintendent Warren Drake stresses direction, leadership as he places 19 new East Baton Rouge principals

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- East Baton Rouge Parish Schools Superintendent Warren Drake.

One of incoming East Baton Rouge Parish Schools Superintendent Warren Drake’s mantras is: It’s people, not programs, that make schools work. Barely a week on the job, he’s starting to identify who those people are. Drake already has placed 19 new principals at Baton Rouge public schools. Most are filling vacancies. In five cases,… Continue reading →

LSU Provost Stuart Bell leaving to be Alabama's new president

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Provost Stuart Bell answers questions from the LSU Faculty Senate during a meeting on campus on Sept. 5, 2012.

LSU will soon set out on a national search for a new academic leader, following an announcement Tuesday that executive vice president and provost Stuart Bell is being recommended for the University of Alabama president’s post. Bell has served as LSU’s chief academic officer since 2012. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve… Continue reading →

Iberville School Board severs longstanding agreement with nonprofit St. Gabriel Health Clinic to provide services at two east bank schools

The Iberville Parish School Board voted Monday night to sever its more than 20-year arrangement with the St. Gabriel Health Clinic, activating the 60-day termination clause of its agreement with the nonprofit, which operates health clinics at two east bank schools. The board’s 7-1 vote came a month after a majority of… Continue reading →

LCTCS head: Community colleges crucial to meeting state’s workforce demands

Monty Sullivan, Louisiana Community and Technical College System president

Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, said the state won’t be able to meet its workforce demands if it doesn’t focus on educating the estimated 1.65 million Louisiana adults who have no post-secondary credentials. “Are we going to solve the state’s workforce challenge with 40,000 high school graduates a year?” he asked.… Continue reading →

Bill that is part of Common Core deal wins final approval

A bill that is part of the Common Core accord won final approval Monday when the Senate approved it 39-0. The proposal is Senate Bill 43 and is sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie. Under the plan, changes in Common Core recommended by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would face… Continue reading →

Brister family, prominent in education, is launching a private school in Baton Rouge

Herman Brister Sr.

One of the most prominent families in local public education is launching a small private school in Baton Rouge focusing initially on children as young as 18 months old, but it may expand to elementary school grades. “Education and excellence are synonymous with the Brister Family,” announces the website for Laboratory School for Leadership… Continue reading →

Southern U president-chancellor search down to 2 candidates

Southern University’s search for a new president and chancellor is now down to two finalists, after one person said he’s no longer interested in the job. Chicago Family Health CEO Barrett Hatches was among the six people who interviewed for the newly merged position last month — winning over the search panel by highlighting his… Continue reading →

Analysis: LSU's F. King Alexander among top-paid presidents nationally

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander.

With a $600,000 annual salary, LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander ranks in the top 10 percent of public university presidents in the nation in base pay. The Chronicle of Higher Education released its annual national report on college presidents’ pay on Sunday. According to the Chronicle’s analysis, the typical public college president… Continue reading →

LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center graduates receive their degrees

The LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center awarded degrees to 184 students during commencement ceremonies on May 29 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, according to LSU Law Chancellor and Dean Jack M. Weiss. Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, delivered the commencement address. The LSU Law Center conferred the honorary… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board rejects four charter school applicants

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake, right, sits at his first public school board meeting next to school board President David Tatman Thursday, June 4, 2015.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system is poised to spend more than $30 million than it expects to take in next year, and once again, charter schools are getting much of the blame for the rising costs. Despite this imbalance, a handful of School Board members are pressing to spend still more, in particular to… Continue reading →

School suspensions bill clears final hurdle in Louisiana House of Representatives

A radically reduced bill that would ban some public school suspensions won final legislative approval Thursday. Without discussion, the legislation cleared the Louisiana House 53-36, the minimum votes needed to pass. The measure, Senate Bill 54, started as an effort to ban most out-of-school suspensions for Louisiana’s youngest students. Senate President Pro Tem Sharon Broome,… Continue reading →

Judge approves alternative Tangipahoa schools desegregation plan

A federal judge has approved an alternative plan for desegregating Tangipahoa Parish schools that may save the district the expense of building new schools and will give parents more freedom in choosing the best schools for their children. The new student assignment plan, jointly proposed by the School Board and attorneys representing the parish’s black community,… Continue reading →

Louisiana Senate committee shelves public school aid plan, leaving next step uncertain

In a surprise move, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee on Thursday shelved a plan to boost state aid to public schools by nearly $85 million. After the hearing, officials said the legislation appears, at least in part, to be a casualty of House-Senate bickering over how to solve Louisiana’s $1.6 billion shortfall to keep funding of state… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board to tackle budget, charter schools, magnet programs at meeting Thursday

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- East Baton Rouge Parish Schools Superintendent Warren Drake.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday will hold the first of at least two public hearings on its proposed $460 million general operating budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The board also will decide on four charter school applicants, debate closing White Hills Elementary, and consider creating… Continue reading →

Hammond families trying to keep their kids at Montessori elementary seek early start to desegregation plan

A week after the Tangipahoa Parish School Board requested federal court approval for a new student assignment plan, parents of students at Hammond Westside Elementary Montessori School pleaded with the board Tuesday to begin implementing at least part of the plan by next school year. Shenika Conley and Chris Genre said they… Continue reading →