Education Superintendent John White’s ‘somewhat peculiar’ absence noticed at State Capitol after years of higher profile _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- John White, Louisiana Superintendent of Education, delivers the opening remarks at the September Supervisor Collaboration event at Bayou Church on Monday

State Superintendent of Education John White won a satisfactory job evaluation Wednesday from Louisiana's top school board.

Gary Jones, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, made the announcement after a BESE executive session of about 40 minutes behind closed doors.

The review marked the seventh year in a row that White has gotten favorable remarks during his annual job check.

White said afterwards he scored 3 out of a possible 4 and is rated effective/proficient, the second highest of four categories also used to rate public school teachers.

He said the upside of the review included the growth of high school graduates qualifying for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, those leaving high school with job credentials and a high school graduation rate of 81.4 percent, which was the first time in state history to exceed 80 percent.

Decade-long effort pays off: Louisiana public high school graduation rate reaches 81 percent

White said one criticism was a problem with some black students and those with disabilities keeping pace with other students.

The superintendent has held the job since 2012.

He has worked on a month-to-month contract since January, 2016  because BESE has been unable to agree on an extension.

Doing so requires at least eight of 11 votes on the panel.

White said his annual job review is not linked to his contract status.

"There is no obligation to the board based on the review to give a contract," he said.

Jones, who has been on the board for four years, said six votes are needed to open a search for a new superintendent.

"Obviously there has not been an appetite to give him the eight votes and not been an appetite to open up a search," he said.

'In the four years I have been on the board the job John has done for us was satisfactory every one of those years."

Three of BESE's 11 members were named by Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has been critical of White in the past and who vowed to replace him during the 2015 race for governor.

Eight others are elected by voters.

Jones and BESE members Jada Lewis, of Baton Rouge, and Kathy Edmonston, of Gonzales, are not seeking re-election in the Oct. 12 primary.

Only one board member -- Tony Davis, of Natchitoches -- is assured of returning because no one filed against him last week.

Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.