LIVINGSTON—The Livingston Parish School Board on Thursday unanimously approved sweeping changes to its personnel policies, including the way teachers attain tenure, to conform with requirements of a law approved by the state Legislature during its most recent session.
Assistant Superintendent John Watson described the changes to 13 sections of the written Public Schools Policies Manual that has served the Livingston Parish School System for a number of years.
He said that major changes were made to the policy chapter entitled “Employment of Personnel.”
Under the new state guidelines, the superintendent has sole responsibility in the hiring of school system personnel.
The old rules stated that “the school board shall select certified employees only upon the recommendation of the superintendent.”
The new policy states that “teachers and all other personnel shall be selected for employment by the superintendent.
The policy also states, “applicants should not resort to the use of political, social or other pressures to gain employment or promotion” and prohibits the use of seniority and tenure as primary criteria when making employment decisions.
Under the new guidelines, principals also have more authority over the employment of teachers or other personnel, although any decisions made by principals are subject to the approval of the superintendent.
Watson told the board that the new policies radically change the manner in which a teacher can gain tenure.
Most of the previous policies regarding tenure were stricken from the manual and replaced with new requirements for acquiring tenure, a status that gives teachers a measure of job security.
Under the new state guidelines, a teacher can now gain tenure only if the teaches is rated “highly effective” for five years out of a six-year period.
Teachers will be rated against their peers across the state to earn the “highly effective” status. Board President Malcolm Sibley asked Watson how the new state-mandated policies will fare if lawsuits now in the courts challenging the constitutionality of the legislation are successful. Watson responded that it would be relatively ‘easy” to revert back to the former policy manuals.
Board member Buddy Mincey Jr. said before voting to approve the changes, “This is all so disappointing. I resent how this has gone down and how the Legislature has crammed all this change down our throats. The matter of attaining tenure is absolutely unrealistic. It’s disheartening that our board has to swallow this bitter pill.”
In other action, the School Board honored former teacher, Principal and administrator Frances Graves LaFleur for her many years of service to the school system.
The board unanimously agreed to name the new administration building at Live Oak High School in her honor.
A scholarship fund in her name is also being established.