Redemptorist supporters: 'It's sad that we have to let this go'

Redemptorist supporters: 'It's sad that we have to let this go'
The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge called a meeting to address student and parent' concerns (Source: WAFB)
The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge called a meeting to address student and parent' concerns (Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Parents and students frustrated over the closing of Redemptorist High School met with the bishop Tuesday, but many of them left feeling defeated.

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge called a meeting for people associated with the school to address their concerns to Bishop Robert Muench.

"We are shocked and we are very disappointed in the decision that the diocese has made to close the school down," said Lawrence Robillard, president of the Redemptorist Alumni Board.

Junior Jami Smith said she bought a class ring, but now she's having to leave it and the memories behind.

"It's sad that we have to let this go," Smith said.

Will Mellion, the grandmother of a freshman football player, is worried the transition to a new school will impact her grandson's academic and athletic progress.

"When you keep switching kids from one setting to another, it causes a problem," Mellion said. "You have to go through the adjustment all over again."

Senior Alexis Paddie will be one of the last students to graduate from Redemptorist. She and her classmates are fighting to keep the Wolf Pack legacy alive, but she said they don't seem to be gaining any ground.

"Not just the bishop, but everybody in there looks like they're opposed to it," Paddie said.

The diocese said dwindling enrollment numbers played the biggest part in the decision to close Redemptorist. The diocese reported enrollment went from 1,100 students in 1980 to a projected 150 in 2015.

"You have to have students to have a school," said Donna Carville, spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Carville added the diocese exhausted every option possible. However, she said in the end, there was no other choice.

"Given the situation, the diocese has made every effort that they could have done to keep the school open," Carville explained.

Mellion believes the meeting with the bishop was nothing more than an opportunity for parents to vent their frustrations. She added it appears the suggestions brought before school leaders fell on deaf ears.

"When it all boils down, it seems the school is going to close," she said.

Alumni gathered in the school gym hoping to speak with the bishop. However, the diocese said a meeting with alums was not scheduled. The president of the alumni association said members were allowed to meet with the superintendent of Catholic Schools of Baton Rouge and the chairman of the board.

What you need to know:

What will be done to help Redemptorist students apply to other Catholic schools?

Each school in the Diocese of Baton Rouge is site-based, with admissions policies and procedures designed by that school. The Catholic Schools Office has asked principals of Catholic schools for special consideration in welcoming the students from Redemptorist Junior and Senior High Schools. Parents will receive information and support for the admissions process from Redemptorist and the Catholic Schools Office to make it easier to approach the admissions process into other schools.

How will the State of Louisiana help students who are part of the State Scholarship Program?

Representatives from the State of Louisiana Scholarship Program have provided an information sheet that has been distributed to all parents. Additionally, they will host a meeting on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 8:00 am in the Redemptorist High library to assist parents in the transition to another school.

What happens to student records?

The Diocese of Baton Rouge Archives Department houses all records for schools that have closed. Beginning July 2015, the Catholic Schools Office will work with the Archives Department to ensure that former students have access to their official records from Redemptorist.

There are several students in the Special Education Program currently housed at Redemptorist Junior & Senior High. What is the future for these students?

The Director of Special Education will work with families individually to place students who are currently in the program at the junior and senior high schools. Additionally, the Catholic Schools Office has already begun efforts to relocate the Dyslexia Lab to a site within the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

There are 26 full-time faculty and administration on contract for the 2014-15 school year. The non-contracted staff members total 12 full-time and 6 part-time, and there are 8 coaches who work during the athletic season and are not part of the teaching faculty.

Schools within the Diocese of Baton Rouge are site-based in their management. Therefore, schools hire all of their own faculty and staff. The Catholic Schools Office will assist Redemptorist employees interested in applying for positions in other schools within the Diocese of Baton Rouge by aiding communication of interest to the other schools throughout the diocese. Additionally, faculty and staff have already received information about the severance program from the Diocese of Baton Rouge Human Resource Office.

The Diocesan Finance & Building Committees advise the diocese on all matters relative to development and use of the property. The diocese will ensure the Redemptorist Junior & Senior High Buildings are maintained in a way that it does not become blight on the neighborhood

Redemptorist is a private, Roman Catholic school and is under the remit of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Supporters have also set up a Facebook page that has already gathered over 1,600 likes.

Those looking for more information about the event can go to the Save Redemptorist Facebook page.

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