I Heard it By the Grapevine . . . not the Picayune

Now, more than ever, the public needs to be fully informed about education policy and the governing body that makes it in Baton Rouge. The Times-Picayune has not been forthcoming with complete coverage of the education reform debacle so here's a story from another source.

A lawsuit filed in Orleans Parish Court by three fired school principals - Annette Hagan, Olga Walters and Sean Goodwin - claims that the Recovery School District, administered by the Louisiana Department of Education and loosely overseen by the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education (BESE), is "arbitrarily and capriciously converting an indefinite number of public schools to charter schools to be controlled by quasi-private boards without protecting the statutory employment rights of public school employees." This isn't the first time this claim has been made, but it may be the first time it is heard as part of a lawsuit.

The plaintiffs point out that RSD Superintendent John White, Deputy Superintendent Patrick Dobard and facilities director Ramsey Green were unqualified to serve as hearing officers. It is interesting to note that although the BESE board and former Supt. Paul Pastorek can make a waiver for the statutory requirement that the Superintendent have a masters degree, that waiver may not hold water when it comes to John White's authority to take this action. Although Mr. White claims to have completed a masters degree several weeks after he was appointed by Supt. Pastorek, plaintiffs dispute that.

It would be good form for Mr. White to produce his diploma - much like the production of a presidential birth certificate - to satisfy the public's curiosity about his qualifications. Or he can wait for the court to require it.

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