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Wednesday, February 12, 2020



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Lafourche school board selects next superintendent

Lafourche school board selects next superintendent

Interim Superintendent Jarod Martin will soon be Lafourche school district’s official chief.

The Lafourche School Board overwhelmingly voted to keep Martin on as the superintendent Tuesday night in a 13-2 vote.

Board members Cheryl Thomas and Randy Schouest cast votes for other candidates. Thomas voted for former St. John the Baptist Parish Superintendent Kevin George, while Schouest voted for Chris Kimball, the former director of Lafourche’s middle and secondary education department.

Martin began serving as the acting superintendent last July after former superintendent Louis Voiron went on an extended medical leave. The board started its search for a new district head after Voiron told the board in the fall that he wouldn’t be returning.

Martin competed against four other candidates: Kimball, George, Charles Michel and Michael Robinson.

Ahead of the vote, board member Tyler Dufrene said every candidate would be qualified to serve.

“It is my fervent hope ... that no matter which candidate is chosen tonight that this district comes together as one for the betterment of our employees, students and community,” he said.

Board member Barry Plaisance, who voted for Martin, said his district offered support for two of the candidates.

After hugging his family, Martin thanked the central office staff for its support over the past six months.

“I feel confident moving forward because of the team we have and ... the teachers we have in this district are going to keep us moving in the right direction,” he said.

Martin will soon tackle helping the district pass a proposed half-cent sales tax to fund employee raises among other priorities in the district’s latest strategic plan.

While the public’s reaction on the school district’s Facebook page appeared mostly positive, Lafourche NAACP President Burnell Tolbert said he’s received a lot of calls questioning the lack of votes for the two black superintendent candidates, George and Robinson.

“I don’t think anybody in the black community is happy about that decision,” Tolbert said, noting they were the only two candidates who had worked as superintendents in the past.

He said the vote suggested that the board members had already made their decision before going through the hiring process. After watching the interviews with all five candidates, Tolbert said he felt all were qualified but Robinson and George were the “most qualified,” and was surprised neither of them received a single white vote.

“I don’t think they’re looking for the best qualified person for the position, I think they’re looking for friendship,” he said. “I think that’s very racist for them to do this to those two guys.”

Though Lafourche has previously had a black superintendent in JoAnn Matthews, Tolbert said he didn’t see a way for the board’s process “to not be racist” and that he is already in conversations with the state NAACP about potentially filing a lawsuit.

--Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at hparker@houmatoday.com