AMITE — Settlement talks in the Tangipahoa Parish School Board’s ongoing desegregation lawsuit could lead to an agreement in the near future, one of the board’s attorneys said Tuesday night.
Lawyer Ashley Sandage said she and Gideon Carter, an attorney representing the parish’s black community, have had productive conversations over the past few weeks, including a lengthy meeting Monday. The meetings have centered on the areas in which the district still needs to achieve unitary status — meaning the district has effectively desegregated — such as the district’s plan for assigning students to schools.
Sandage said she hopes to report significant progress in some of those areas soon, “hopefully before school is out this year.”
She asked the board for authority to seek court approval for one version of the district’s modified desegregation plan. The plan would use magnet and thematic program offerings to lure students across attendance lines and desegregate the parish’s schools without drastically changing attendance zones or building new elementary schools, as the current court-ordered plan would require.
Sandage asked specifically for authority to proceed with a version of the district’s proposal that would include sending some students from Natalbany, rather than the M.C. Moore area of Hammond, to Loranger. That version of the plan was “fully vetted” at parishwide community meetings a few years ago, Sandage said.
The board granted Sandage’s request without opposition.
In other business, the School Board received a request from Sumner High School supporters to quickly fill the school’s head football coach position.
The board recently reassigned the school’s former head coach, Zephaniah Powell, to lead Amite High School’s football program.
Sumner High graduate John McElveen urged the board to replace Powell soon, suggesting that interim coach Ross Currier, who formerly served as Sumner’s defensive coordinator, would be an excellent choice.
“Games in October and November are won in the spring and summer,” McElveen told the board. “It took less than six weeks to fill the Amite spot. We deserve the same thing.”
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen.