Monroe Dispatch - No Struggle, No Progress

School Board Disappoints Public

 

November 9, 2017 | View PDF



The Monroe City School Board held a meeting last Wednesday evening (November 1) that may have caught many in the public off guard. That is because the vast majority of school board meetings are held on Tuesdays, which is common knowledge to the public. However, the meeting last Wednesday was attended by a small segment of the public, which led some to wonder why the change in meeting days. Wednesday is a night generally set aside for bible study at area churches, which probably meant that people would have had to make a choice of attending a school board meeting, or bible study. From the number of people that showed up last Wednesday, most chose bible study. The Monroe City School Board and the local NAACP chapter have been trading barbs between each other that seems to be creating distance, rather than cooperation. According to NAACP President Rev. Ambrose Douzart, the board looks as though it is in a hurry to end the Consent Decree from the Justice Department that has cast a long, lingering shadow over the district’s racial makeup in the community. It has taken fifty years(and counting) for the District to come into full compliance, and to resolve those issues that will satisfy the Justice Department requirements as outlined in the Decree. The NAACP held a press conference recently voicing their strong objections against the school board asking for a lifting from DOJ, which was met by strong criticism from the school board. Board President Bishop Rodney McFarland expressed his displeasure at the press conference, saying that he was “displeased” to hear about the NAACP’s action upon his return from being out of the city.

Nonetheless, the subject of any public output from those that attended the meeting would have been about the lifting of the Consent Decree. In a letter dated November 1, sent to President McFarland, Rev. Ambrose asked that the board rescind its desire for relief because “most issues are not presently resolved”, according to the contents of the letter. There was no formal discussion by the board, other than to say that a conference call is set for Nov. 14 with the Justice department. A decision, according to board attorney Doug Lawrence may be forthcoming shortly thereafter. Board Member Darryl Berry asked McFarland if those in the audience, including Ambrose and his group could give their views on the Consent Decree. McFarland refused that request, saying that it (Decree) “was not on” the agenda.

As board president, McFarland has control of board meetings and what is placed on the agenda. Some members of the public as well as the NAACP, are aware of the board’s intentions, but feel as though a public meeting should be held so “everyone can be heard”. “The board needs to hear the voices of the community. They are the taxpayers, and are concerned about the children”, said Ambrose. Ambrose also said they and the community “feel neglected” because little is known, as they are denied their right to speak at board meetings. According to the letter sent to McFarland, the NAACP argues that if the Decree were lifted, “the faculty and staff would no longer have any sanctioned recourse at their disposal”.

 

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