The Tangipahoa Parish School Board and plaintiffs in the system’s 46-year-old desegregation lawsuit officially filed a compromise Tuesday in federal court more than six weeks after coming to an agreement, according to court documents.
The two parties in the suit reached a verbal agreement July 7, which they discussed with U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle in a conference July 8, court documents show.
Lemelle gave the parties 30 days to file a compromise, but the defendants asked for a two-week extension in a motion for a continuance. The judge granted the motion, but ordered the motion be filed by Wednesday at 9 a.m.
The compromise contains several elements negotiated by the parties in the aftermath of the failure of four school-tax proposals in the April 30 election.
Three new elementary schools will be built: one each in the Hammond/Natalbany area, between Amite and Loranger, and west of Interstate 55 near Hammond and Ponchatoula, according to the motion.
Kentwood High School will undergo renovation in order to become a career education center, the agreement says.
The funding for the construction will come from a 1-cent sales tax voters renewed in 2007, the motion says.
The compromise dismisses an earlier plaintiffs’ motion to sanction the School Board and superintendent and a motion by the plaintiffs asking the court to order the board to impose the proposed taxes despite their rejection by voters.
One part of the compromise establishes a $5,000 fine for contempt of court and $1,000 for each day that the violation would continue.
The compromise also:
• Orders the Tangipahoa Parish School System to hire retired teacher Joyce Richardson.
• Grants conditional unitary status in the area of extracurricular activities.
• Orders the school system to expand the multipurpose building at O.W. Dillon Elementary School in Kentwood.
• Clarifies the process for resolving disputes between the school system and the court-appointed desegregation compliance officer.
• Orders the school system to make more explicit the role of the system’s chief desegregation implementation officer.
School Board members voted 6-3 Monday to approve the bulk of the agreement and give their attorney, Charles Patin, authority to negotiate the few remaining sticking points.
Board members Sandra Bailey-Simmons, Andy Anderson and Brett Duncan voted against the compromise.
Duncan said that the plan “would further erode the power of this board” and objected to the penalties for contempt of court.
Bailey-Simmons and Anderson both objected to the plan as a whole, asserting it would do irreparable damage to the Loranger community because it calls for busing more than 500 children to the new elementary schools.