The compromise agreement in the Tangipahoa Parish public school desegregation lawsuit was delayed again Wednesday, according to court documents published online Thursday.
The School Board and the plaintiffs now have until 9 a.m. Wednesday to file the proposed compromise with the court, according to an order from U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle.
The parties in the case reached the agreement July 7 and presented it verbally to Lemelle during a meeting in chambers the following day.
Lemelle ordered them to file a copy of the plan by Aug. 8, but extended the deadline by 16 days at the request of the School Board after the two parties could not produce a draft of the agreement by then, according to court documents.
On Tuesday, School Board attorney Charles Patin filed a motion asking Lemelle to compel plaintiff’s attorney Nelson D. Taylor to sign off on the School Board’s proposed agreement or produce one of his own, court documents show.
“Plaintiffs have had more than reasonable and ample time,” to act on the proposal, the School Board’s motion says.
In an earlier motion, Patin wrote that the School Board had sent a draft of the compromise to plaintiffs’ attorneys on July 12.
Emails included with that motion show Patin repeatedly asking plaintiffs’ attorney James A Gray why no draft had been completed.
“I do not understand why it is taking so long to prepare a draft,” Patin wrote to Gray on July 27.
As of Wednesday’s deadline, no draft had been filed, according to Lemelle’s order.
“It is frustrating,” said Rose Dominguez, the School Board’s president. “I felt like we came in good faith and we haven’t had any cooperation (from the plaintiffs).
“I am not sure why it has been such a delay.”
Neither Patin nor Taylor returned calls for comment.
The compromise approved by the board removes elements from the system’s court-approved desegregation plan that would have required the passage of additional taxes.
Tangipahoa Parish voters rejected four school tax proposals by record margins April 30.
Lemelle’s order instructs the parties to present the plan to him no later than 9 a.m. Wednesday for a status conference at 9:30 a.m.