In November, the Morehouse Parish School Board faced the difficult decision of whether to close two of its schools and have a reduction in force, and in order to stop the closures and RIFs, Local Charles Bradford filed suit with the U.S. District Court Western District of Louisiana Monroe Division against several parties on November 26.
The suit names The Morehouse Parish School Board including Superintendent David Gray, President Karen Diel, Vice President Rose Thompson, District Two member Louis Melton, District Four member Richard 'Rick' Hixon, District Five member Chip Rawls, and District Six member Chastity Kennedy, as well as the State of Louisiana BESE Board of Elementary, Secondary Education District Five Representative, Dr. Gary Jones, and Louisiana Department of Education, John White as the defendants.
Bradford believes that the school closures and force reductions will have a negative impact on the community. He believes it will negatively impact the students because of overcrowding and safety risks and will have a particularly bad impact on students in the first through sixth grades. He also believes it will injure the community financially.
“It will cause mental suffering from our parents and the safety of our children, and cause school scores to plummet,” he claims in the suit.
The suit asks for a Temporary Ex parte Injunction Order Stay so the Morehouse Parish School System cannot vote to close any schools or participate in a reduction of force until further notice of the court. It also asks for a hearing and for the court to order the board to hold a meeting with the community to form a new plan.
“The plaintiff prays that the court order all the defendants named herein to form a committee of businessmen, clergymen, parents, community leaders, political leaders, and educators to meet to create a proposed plan that will be in the best interest of all the children in the community,” the suit reads.
As of now the School Board is continuing with its plan. At a meeting on December 11 the board voted to close H. V. Adams and Pine Grove moving the Pre-K to the Magnet School, elementary grades to Delta and Morehouse Junior High, and the Jr. High students to Bastrop High School. There will also be a reduction in force starting with uncertified teachers.
U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty has denied the request for a temporary restraining order stating Bradford's arguments do not form a foundation for going on with the suit.