AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish School Board appointed an interim representative Tuesday for a vacant Hammond-based seat, but it wasn’t the appointment some community members had requested.
The board appointed Jim H. “Jay” Kelly to the District G seat vacated by Eric Dangerfield, who won election in November but was court-ordered not to take office after his guilty plea in a Medicaid fraud case. Dangerfield resigned just minutes before the Jan. 6 meeting at which the other board members took office.
Kelly, a minister and former parish educator, received the only seconded nomination and was appointed without opposition from the board. But community members reiterated their call from December for the appointment of Betty Robinson, a longtime parish educator who said she plans to run for the seat in a special election this fall.
The board voted Tuesday night to add the race to the Oct. 24 primary election ballot. The general election will be Nov. 21.
Kelly said whether he will run for the seat is “yet to be determined, but I would love to serve the district for as long as I can.”
Resident Osa Betts Williams presented the board with a second letter of support for Robinson’s appointment to the interim post. The letter, identical to one presented to the board in December, was signed by representatives of the parish chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Florida Parishes Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the Second Saturday Breakfast, among others.
Board member Sandra Bailey Simmons sought to nominate Robinson on Tuesday, but found no board support. Her suggestion died for lack of a second. Simmons voiced no opposition to Kelly’s appointment.
Kelly said he was honored to receive the appointment and looks forward to working with the board. He pledged to ensure that the residents of District G are well represented and their voices are heard.
In other business, the board voted 8-1 to renew Superintendent Mark Kolwe’s contract for two years, with the same terms and salary. Newly seated board member Therese Domiano cast the lone vote against renewal.
Kolwe, who has served eight years as the district’s superintendent, thanked the board for its support and said he remains committed to improving the parish’s schools.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen. Contact her by phone at (225) 336-6981.