Michael Gaudet won a new term Tuesday on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, cementing his victory in a special election a year ago for the District 7 seat.
This time, he defeated parent activist Tania Nyman, who focused her campaign on the dangers of school privatization to the local democratic process.
Gaudet, a 65-year-old Republican who retired in 2014 as vice president of Albemarle, won a hard-fought special election in fall 2017, replacing Barbara Freiberg after she was elected to the Metro Council. A year later, Gaudet had to defend his newly won seat after Nyman, who was friends with Belinda Davis, his opponent last year, made a last-minute jump into the race.
Gaudet is a Republican; Nyman is a Democrat. Like last year, business and education reform groups have spent heavily on his behalf, more than $50,000 reported so far. Nyman has largely self-funded her campaign, raising a fraction of what her opponent has garnered.
Gaudet is a founding board member of THRIVE charter school, leaving it in 2015. He also served on the board for Teach For America’s south Louisiana chapter. The son of Lafourche Parish public educators, Gaudet has served on the boards of the private Episcopal schools his three children attended.
Nyman, 50, has two children in public schools and has been a longtime leader, along with Davis, in the parent group One Community One School District. That group was formed in 2012 to fight legislation to create a breakaway school district in southeast Baton Rouge, an effort that later morphed into the St. George incorporation drive.
Nyman had said if elected she would lead a campaign to persuade the state Legislature that “privilege corporate charter schools and privatization” to end the erosion of the local democratic control of public schools.