On Monday, May 8th, I delivered the petition shown below to the office of Senate President, John Alario. The petition, signed by 1045 citizens from every corner of Louisiana, was copied to Governor John Bel Edwards; Senate Education Committee Chairman, Dan Morrish; Senate Government Affairs Chairman, Karen Carter-Peterson; the Senate Counsel; the Advocate and NOLA.com.
On Tuesday, May 9th, I went to the State Capital building to meet with LDOE and Rep. Vincent Pierre to discuss a bill that Pierre authored on my behalf. During the course of that day, I spoke with no less than 10 individuals from the various offices that received a copy of the petition. They each acknowledge receipt of the petition and offered encouraging words and praise for the work that I had put into researching the issue, at hand. It wasn’t until I asked a Senate staffer if she thought that President Alario would respond to the petition and notify BESE of the vacancy? Her response was, “It isn’t a matter of whether, or not, he wants to. It is a process that is laid out in statute, and he intends to uphold the statute.”
“It isn’t a matter of whether, or not, he wants to. It is a process that is laid out in statute, and he intends to uphold the statute.”-Senate Staff
Since this particular journey began, several weeks ago, a few of the reformers have commented, both directly and indirectly, that I was on a witch hunt, and that my blatant attempts to have John White removed are baseless. Here is the reality. I make no secret about wanting White gone. I say it in a much nicer way than many others. That is not the issue in question. The issue is that a basic protection of the democratic process has been breached in an attempt to keep someone in position. The reason for this is a lack of a 2/3 majority vote from BESE members to reappoint White as superintendent. From my position, it seems that rather than trying to fly this under the radar for as long as possible, they should have been lobbying the other BESE members, reaching out hands to try to come to agreements, and many other things. Instead, White and his supporters have forged ahead refusing to comply with requests to include all stakeholders in the development of the state ESSA plan. Why is that? Do they think they have the upper hand? Do they plan to challenge the statute? Most likely, they do. If they do, it will be shut down quickly. Here’s why.
- In the continuation of RS 24:14, it also states that if the appointee refuses to vacate the office, the Senate President shall notify the courts to removed them.
- If the appointee chooses to challenge the removal, the grievance is not with the Senate, but with the appointing official that failed to reappoint.
- Any business conducted by the appointee after the office is declared vacant is null and void.
There still remains the possibility that they are completely aware of all of this. It would explain why, after four years, White decided to credential himself. It would explain why there has been no mention of appointing, reappointing, or replacing White and no intention to even approach the subject, even after repeated requests to do so. It is likely that White has already planned his exit.
Either way, a change is on the horizon. Some have expressed concern that this only means that they will endeavor to appoint someone just like White. Fear not. If they don’t have the votes to reappoint White, they don’t have the votes to appoint someone like him. Perhaps, it would be a good opportunity for the reformers to open up to discussions with us in order to find a superintendent that we can all agree on. One that will build up the good parts of school choice, redesign and rebuild our traditional public schools, keep the federal government out of our business, and do all of this without defacing and demeaning the teaching profession.