Ganey Arsement is a Calcasieu Parish educator who became an education advocate thanks to two men — Bobby Jindal and John White. Jindal began his second term in 2012 with a ferocious attack against public education, public school teachers and local school boards. White arrived in Louisiana from New York in May, 2011 to become head of the Recovery School District. He was immediately touted by Jindal shortly after his arrival as a person the governor would like to see named superintendent of Education for the entire state, not just the RSD.
In the 2011 BESE election, millions of dollars in out-of-state money poured in to the coffers of some candidates and White was hired by BESE to be the state’s new Superintendent of Education in January 2012. That was the last time BESE voted on a contract for White.
Arsement has filed suit to force BESE to vote on whether to renew White’s contract or not. White has served as a month-to-month employee since January 2016 when the current BESE members took office following the 2015 state elections. Even though pro-charter, pro-White candidates were elected in seven of the eight seats filled by election. But, each governor gets to appoint three members to the 11-member board and Governor John Bel Edwards appointed three people to the slots who back his position that the state needs a new superintendent.
The result is something of a stalemate. State law says that it takes a tw0-third vote of BESE members to hire or fire a superintendent. That’s eight votes. White can only muster seven. Or, so it seems since a vote has not been taken since the new board took office.
So, White has served as a month-to-month employee of BESE — although there’s never been a vote taken on that either.
So, Arsement and others have filed suit in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge (the place where all suits against the state and its departments and agencies must be filed). They are seeking to force BESE to vote on White’s contract.
If a new contract for White cannot muster the required two-thirds vote need, Arsement wants to see the seat declared vacant (as the law provides) and a national search for a new superintendent launched.
Arsement discusses the lawsuit and the practices that he and other public education advocates say White has used to spin what they claim is a false narrative about the success of charter schools in Louisiana.
The suit has been assigned to Judge William Morvant, but it looks like it will be a while before the wheels of justice start rolling. The initial hearing has been set for August.
I met Ganey Arsement in 2015 while working on a min-documentary about the 2011 BESE elections. He’s included in the program. Here’s the link.
Thanks to Matt Roberts, AOC’s Community Production Manager for help locating the music used in this segment.
A Foolish Game by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/55394 Ft: Snowflake