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Mary Ellen Donatto

Dispute develops about St. Landry Parish School Board agenda preparation

A dispute is unfolding about who controls the content of agendas for St. Landry Parish School Board meetings.
The agenda issue cropped up when some Board members recently expected an item about the Opelousas Middle School to be on the agenda and it was not there.
Mary Ellen Donatto, a Eunice Board member, said at Wednesday’s Executive Committee meeting, “We need some clarity particularly as it concerns Board members submitting items on the agenda.”
Donatto, who recently served as Board president, said the Board has a right to add items to the agenda and is exempt from a five-day prior notice provision.
Current Board President Donnie Perron said it is up to him and the superintendent to place items on the agenda.
The Board’s policy states, “Items of business may be suggested by School Board members, administrative staff, employees, school patrons, or lay citizens of the school district for inclusion on the agenda.”
Superintendent Patrick Jenkins said 80% to 90% of agenda items are from the Board’s committee meetings.
Board member Randy Wagley said if the intent is to allow all Board members to put things on the agenda, the policy doesn’t state that.
“In a brief discussion at our last meeting with Courtney, Courtney said something about we all have the same authority.”
Wagley was referring to Courtney Joiner, a Board attorney.
“I think it should be clarified if that is the intent of the Board that we are allowed to put items on the agenda,” Wagley said.
Wagley said he understands there needs to be restrictions to keep members from resubmitted rejecting items.
Board member Kyle Boss aid, “We’ve never had a problem before with that. Any Board member is supposed to be able to put anything on the agenda. I don’t where that is coming from.”
Perron said in the past everybody did have an opportunity to place items on the agenda.
“I would think the problem would be if 13 members all went to put up two or three things,” he said.
Some issues are things that can be handled administratively rather than by Board action, he said.
Boss responded, “I understand that, but we’ve got a lot things that get put on the agenda because things that were supposed to be taken care that wasn’t taken care of. That’s a lot of our problem.”
Donatto said, “By way of suggestion, a neighboring parish, I want to say it is Acadia, they actually have a statement that says no board member shall ever be denied the right to put an item on the agenda.”
Jerome Robinson, who formulates the policies, was asked to investigate the issue and rework the wording.

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