East Baton Rouge Parish School Board President Barbara Freiberg says she’s talking with parish Metro Council members about including School Board members in future appointments to key boards that oversee such areas as the parish’s bus transportation and library systems and its planning and zoning efforts.
“I think we need to have a better representation on some of the advisory councils,” Freiberg said.
As one example, Freiberg said, having a School Board member serve on the Capital Area Transit System’s board makes sense as a way of trying to spur greater ridership on city buses while potentially saving the school system money on school bus transportation.
School Board members at one time had standing slots on more commissions, including the Planning and Zoning Commission, until a decade ago, when voters approved changes in the city-parish plan of government.
Freiberg’s talks with council members come as one board member, Vereta Lee, criticized Freiberg for not appointing her to one of the plum posts School Board members do have a standing slot on: BREC.
Freiberg instead appointed board member David Tatman to the parks and recreation commission, one of several appointments she’s made since returning to the board presidency in January.
At a recent School Board meeting, Lee and board member Kenyetta Nelson-Lee accused Freiberg of a pattern of excluding her and other black board members from leadership positions.
“It’s not equitable, not equitable at all,” Nelson-Smith said.
Lee and Nelson-Smith lost bids in January to serve as School Board president and vice president.
Lee qualified earlier this month as one of five candidates in the April 9 special election to replace recently deceased District 29 state Rep. Ronnie Edwards. Lee came in third in last fall’s District 29 election, which Edwards won.
Freiberg said she has since met with Lee to explain why she passed over Lee, noting that Lee already is a member of the Executive Committee for the Louisiana School Boards Association. While Tatman was chosen to replace Evelyn Ware-Jackson on BREC, Ware-Jackson, who is black, was elevated in January to serve as School Board vice president.
“I didn’t make these decisions in isolation,” Freiberg said.
Water woes spark one-woman protest
Donaldsonville community organizer Tamiko Garrison waged a one-woman protest Friday outside the local office of Peoples Water Service Co., the water provider for Donaldsonville. The city’s residents have been forced for days to drink bottled water because of high chlorine dioxide levels.
Garrison parked her car in a city parking lot next to the water company, unfolded a canvas chair and sat with a poster illustrated by her teenage daughter with the simple title “Answers.”
A hand-drawn picture under the title showed the image of a person drinking from a glass of water and a list of months this year and last when, according to the state Department of Health and Hospitals, high chlorine dioxide levels were found. Beside April, Garrison’s daughter had drawn a question mark.
Garrison said she posted on Facebook that she’d be protesting at the site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. but didn’t try to rally others to come out there on Good Friday.
“We should have been told, each time, of those readings,” Garrison said of what she described as a silent, peaceful sit-down protest. “My concern is, they didn’t tell us.”
City Year appoints BR development director
City Year, a national education organization that unites young people for a year of service in high-need schools, has named Julie Miller to serve as development director of City Year Baton Rouge.
City Year Baton Rouge deploys 72 AmeriCorps members into seven of the city’s highest-need schools, reaching more than 3,200 students per day, agency officials said in a news release.
“Julie brings to City Year a long-standing commitment to helping students stay in school, outstanding experience building transformative partnerships and the ability to plan strategically to meet the needs of the Baton Rouge community,” said Ryann Denham Sanchez, executive director.
Miller previously served as senior development manager at City Year Baton Rouge. Prior to that post, she was a field representative for the American Federation of Teachers, working locally in the East Baton Rouge Parish school district. In addition, she is a member of the Junior League of Baton Rouge and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She’s a graduate of Ohio State University.
Advocate staff writers Charles Lussier and Ellyn Couvillion contributed to this article.