The Tangipahoa School Board plans to vote Tuesday on whether or not to appoint Theresa Hamilton as the system’s new chief desegregation officer, Superintendent Mark Kolwe said Friday.
Hamilton began serving as the interim chief desegregation officer this week, Kolwe said.
“She’s familiar with our system,” Kolwe said. “She will be able to hit the ground running.”
Hamilton will replace Lynell Higgenbotham, who abruptly resigned Aug. 5.
Higgenbotham handed in her resignation paperwork after 4 p.m. that day, effective immediately, Kolwe said.
On Monday, Kolwe said he did not have anybody in mind for the job, but he would consult with the system’s desegregation attorney and make some recommendations as quickly as possible.
Hamilton was a principal at Hammond Eastside Elementary and Vinyard Elementary schools before moving to the Central Office, Kolwe said.
The chief desegregation officer is charged with overseeing the implementation of the system’s court-ordered desegregation plan, according to court documents.
The officer supervises or coordinates with another administrator in the implementation of magnet programs, student transfers, recruiting of minority students and teachers, desegregation reporting to the court, discipline, remedial programs and school facility improvements, among other duties.
Four board members all expressed cautious support for the move.
“When she was a principal, she did a good job there,” Sandra Bailey-Simmons said. “She’s very efficient.”
“She will be a good person in this position,” Al Link said. “It’s real important whom we put in the position.”
Board President Rose Dominguez and Ann Smith said that based on what they currently know about Hamilton and as long as it follows the court orders, they would support the move.
“I just want to make sure we are within our boundaries as far as the court is concerned,” Smith said.
The full board will take up the nomination during Tuesday’s regular meeting.
If approved, Hamilton would become a key player in the district’s ongoing desegregation case.
In May, Nelson D. Taylor, attorney for the plaintiffs, filed a motion asking the court to sanction Kolwe for creating “a hostile work environment” for Higgenbotham, the former chief desegregation officer.
The motion accused Kolwe of intentionally sidelining Higgenbotham and not allowing her to fulfill her court-appointed duties.
That motion apparently was withdrawn when the two sides reached a compromise agreement one day before a hearing set for July 8.
Higgenbotham’s resignation could affect the compromise, Taylor said Monday.