Elections qualifying ended Thursday afternoon, and more than a dozen candidates are eyeing positions on the Lafayette Parish School Board come Oct. 12.
The new school board will be responsible for electing the district’s next full-time superintendent, after superintendent Donald Aguillard retired in May at the end of his contract. The current school board voted not to begin the hiring process to allow the new board authority over the decision.
Interim superintendent Irma Trosclair’s contract runs until June 30, 2020. She said when she got the position that she'd be interested in pursuing the role full-time if her term as interim leader is successful.
Four incumbent board members — Elroy Broussard, Justin Centanni, Mary Morrison and Britt Latiolais — were uncontested in their districts and automatically re-elected. Each will be serving a second term.
District 4 board member Tehmi Chassion is again running against Erica Williams. The two first faced off in 2014, when Chassion won re-election with 57 percent of the vote. If Chassion wins this fall, it’ll be his third and final term on the board.
Erica Williams is a criminal justice instructor at Remington College-Lafayette and is founder and CEO of New Vision Leadership Foundation of Acadiana. The foundation is a youth empowerment group that provides leadership experiences for at-risk youth ages 11 to 17.
Williams is currently studying for a doctorate in public policy management and leadership from Walden University, according to her campaign Facebook. Her platform focuses include early childhood education, addressing the achievement gap and having all students read on grade level by the third grade.
District 2 board member Tommy Angelle has the most challengers, with three women — Wendy Baudoin, Breyone Carter and Stasia Herbert-McZeal — qualifying to run against him.
Wendy Baudoin has worked for the Lafayette Parish School System for the last seven years as a performance data specialist and previously worked as a research analyst for the Louisiana Department of Education. Baudoin’s campaign priorities include transparent service, improving communication between the district and families, and streamlining district spending.
She has several degrees, including two master’s degrees from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in public policy from Southern University. She’s currently working to obtain a law degree, according to her website and LinkedIn.
Breyone Carter is a Lafayette teacher, volunteer cheerleading coach at Northside High and the 2019 Teacher of the Year at J.W. Faulk Elementary. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, according to her website.
Carter’s platform focuses include incorporating a teacher’s perspective in the decision-making process and achieving equity in school facilities and student opportunity.
Stasia Herbert-McZeal is director of distance education at South Louisiana Community College and serves on the board of Hearts of Hope. She has a master’s in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then University of Southwestern Louisiana, and a doctorate in psychology from Capella University.
Her platform priorities are built around the English vowels “A, E, I, O, and U” and focus on accessibility, equity, infrastructure improvements, outcomes and unity in the community.
Candidates are also vying for three open board seats after members Dawn Morris from District 7, Erick Knezek from District 8 and Jeremy Hidalgo from District 9 opted not to run again. Hidalgo chose instead to pursue the District 3 seat on the newly created parish council.
Both the District 7 and District 8 races are two candidate contests with all female candidates. Eva Green and Kate Bailey Labue are contending for the District 7 seat, while Diana Lennon and Hannah Smith Mason are running to represent District 8.
Eva Green is a retired teacher who worked as an educator for 28 years, including 20 years in Lafayette. Her goals include ensuring parents are confident in the benefits their children receive from their education and that teachers are valued.
Kate Bailey Labue is an attorney with two children in Lafayette public schools. She previously served as the executive director for the Acadiana affiliate of Susan G. Komen and works as a consultant for area nonprofits, according to her campaign Facebook and LinkedIn.
Labue’s platform focuses include improvements to the district’s transportation and long-term strategic planning and fiscal responsibility.
Running for District 8, Diana Lennon is a former Lafayette public school mother who’s served on OneAcadiana’s public education committee and was a co-founder for the Community Coalition for Lafayette Schools. She’s a published children’s book author and both her daughters graduated from Lafayette public schools.
Her campaign priorities include analyzing and replicating best practices in successful Lafayette schools, building a pathway to postsecondary and career education for Lafayette students, and coordinating with the Louisiana Department of Education to assess how state mandates are working for Lafayette schools.
Hannah Smith Mason’s three children attend Lafayette public schools and she’s served as a room mother and former vice president for the Woodvale Elementary PTA. She works as an artist and the outreach coordinator for her family’s company, Smith Mason & Co., according to her campaign website.
Her platform focuses include improving families’ confidence in the school system, improving communication between the district and families and increasing efficiency.
Three candidates are running for Hidalgo’s vacated seat, including retired superintendent Donald Aguillard, who announced his campaign just days after his final day as superintendent in May.
Aguillard was a teacher and administrator in Lafayette for 28 years and served as superintendent for four years. His priorities include ensuring secure funding for academic and facilities needs, growing the district’s career education opportunities and improving campus security, his campaign website said.
Candidate Diogo Tavares is a U.S. Army veteran who previously headed the military science department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He has an MBA from Missouri University of Science and Technology and his platform focuses include improving school security, conservative budgeting and increased accountability.
Hubert Gauthier is a Youngsville real estate broker and owner of Evo Realty. He was educated in Lafayette public schools and currently has three children enrolled in parish public schools. He has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Southern New Hampshire University and is a member of the inaugural Leadership Youngsville class.
His priorities include increasing teacher autonomy in the classroom, improved communication between the district and parents, limiting the need for rezoning and improvements to district transportation.