Meeting set to start selection of school board member _lowres

EBR School Board members Randy Lamana,

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board met briefly Thursday, just long enough to declare the vacancy created by the recent death of Randy Lamana and to invite eligible residents of District 11 to declare their candidacy to replace him.

The seven members present voted quickly in favor of the resolution; members Barbara Freiberg, Vereta Lee and Tarvald Smith were absent, unable to make the hastily called meeting.

Lamana died of an apparent heart attack April 16 after leaving a hearing at the state Legislature.

Those interested in serving the seven months left on Lamana’s term will have until 3 p.m. Wednesday to apply. They will need to submit to School Board President David Tatman a letter of intent, along with a résumé or a short biographical sketch, and a certificate of residency/qualifications supplied by the parish registrar of voters.

The School Board plans to reconvene the next day, at 5 p.m. May 1, to pick the next District 11 representative.

District 11 includes the northeast corner of the parish but stretches south all the way into the Broadmoor area. It excludes Central, which formed its own school district in 2007.

State law spells out several qualifications for school board members, including the uncommon requirement that they be able to read and write.

If the board fails to fill the District 11 vacancy by May 7, Gov. Bobby Jindal will get to fill the position.

One person who said he wants it is Raymond Allmon. Allmon lost to Lamana in 2010, garnering almost 45 percent of the vote but falling 464 votes short.

Since then, Allmon has raised his profile, serving as the Baton Rouge director of the parent group Stand For Children.

He is a regular at School Board meetings and other public education events around town.

Allmon in the past has said he is amassing a slate of candidates to run against most of the sitting members of the School Board, claiming Stand For Children can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect its slate.

Allmon said Thursday he recently shifted to a managing director position with Stand for Children and said he will no longer be involved in the effort to recruit, and help the campaigns of, candidates to run for school boards both in Baton Rouge and in Jefferson Parish.

The organization’s state political action committee reported having just over $8,134 in cash on hand at the end of March; the PAC has shown little activity since elections in fall 2012.

Tatman said he’s heard from at least one other person who expressed interest in the District 11 vacancy.

Anyone the board appoints is eligible to run again in the Nov. 4 School Board elections, but it’s not clear what district they would run for. The Legislature is considering legislation to reduce the School Board from 11 to 7 members, six from districts and one at large.

Right after picking Lamana’s replacement on May 1, the board plans to consider hiring Redistricting LLC, the firm that has handled past School Board redistricting efforts, to draw up yet another set of maps in hopes of heading off the Legislature.

Allmon said, if appointed, he would suggest reducing the board to at least nine districts and perhaps as few as seven. He noted that board member Craig Freeman, who represents District 6, is not planning to run again, something Freeman has already acknowledged to The Advocate.

Tatman said at least two other current board members have told him they are not planning to run for re-election, but he wouldn’t say who.