AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish School Board met for nearly five hours behind closed doors Tuesday, but took no official action in its 46-year-old desegregation case.
Board member Brett Duncan read a short statement from board members after they emerged from the meeting.
“After much discussion, we have authorized our attorneys to continue discussions with plaintiffs,” he read. “The President of the Board has called an additional special meeting for Friday, June 3.”
Board President Rose Dominguez said the board’s attorneys were scheduled to meet with plaintiffs’ attorneys Thursday, and that she hoped they would be able to come to an agreement that would satisfy U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle, who presides over the desegregation case.
“We don’t want the judge to impose a tax,” Dominguez said, referring to a threat Lemelle made during a November hearing. “We worked on every possible solution to avoid that.”
“It all depends on this meeting on Thursday,” Duncan said afterwards.
Board member Sandra Simmons said that board attorney Charles Patin would have several ideas, rather than one proposal, to present to plaintiffs’ attorneys Nelson Taylor and James Gray.
Simmons also said Patin advised the board not to release details of those ideas.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, Simmons requested that it be held in open session, but Dominguez told her that matters of legal strategy need to be discussed in private during an executive session.
A motion to go into executive session was not opposed.
Administrators, attorneys and School Board members went in and out during the course of the session.
The board is considering its options after four of its tax proposals were defeated by a landslide in the April 30 election.
The four proposals would have funded new school construction that was a crucial part of the district’s court-ordered desegregation plan.
Each of the four proposals fell by margins of about 87 percent against to 13 percent in favor.
Since the election, plaintiffs’ attorneys have filed motions asking the judge to sanction the School Board and Superintendent Mark Kolwe for impeding desegregation.
Lemelle has ordered the parties in the suit to appear in court July 8 to hear evidence on those motions and others.
In that same order, Lemelle directed the parties to come together, “putting aside personal/political agendas/ambitions, or suffer the consequences.”
Lemelle also threatened any who intentionally misrepresent or obstruct the court orders with punishment, the order says.
The board will meet at noon on Friday.