EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Sean Rameswaram, the host of Today Explained says, “Something unusual is happening in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.”
It's an idea that's not foreign to the people of East Baton Rouge Parish.
“And so, these white, predominantly wealthy parents essentially said, ‘We want to create our own school district,’” Adam Harris said.
However, the proposal to incorporate a corner of the parish is getting nationwide attention. Harris writes about education for The Atlantic.
“We call it the new secession, it is,” Harris said. “It’s kind of an exasperated white flight, where instead of moving to a suburb, creating a suburb all of its own.”
Harris says St. George advocates say their move isn’t racial, “But there’s this long lineage of arguing that school secession was not about race. They were about taking ownership of your tax dollars,” he said.
“What this podcast fails to mention is the city is a wreck,” said Andrew Murrell. “The city-parish is poorly managed, overspending and increasing our taxes, over 20 different tax increases in the last 17 ballots.”
WAFB caught up with attorney, Andrew Murrell, Wednesday. He’s a spokesperson for the City of St. George and part of the legal team. He says the podcast glossed over huge discrepancies.
“One that this is a breakaway of secession. We’re long leaving East Baton Rouge Parish. We never have. We’re not leaving the City of Baton Rouge. We’ve never been a part of it. It’s simply an unincorporated area trying to form a city in the same parish.”
Murrell says they’re just doing what lawmakers asked them to do. He says they only started to form a city when the legislature wouldn’t let them create a school district. He says they aren’t the first group to break away that wouldn’t have a racially equal population; Central, Zachary, and even Baker pulled it off.
“When Baker formed their own city, their racial makeup was vastly different, the opposite direction, but nobody shouted about racial overtones when they did it,” Murrell said. “I guess it was okay for Baker, but it’s not okay for Central or St. George.”
He says they just want better school systems and tax dollars spent wisely. Anything else, Murrell calls noise.
“They’ve bought into those ideology and racial overtones. It’s just a narrative being pushed by the opposition that they think is going to be successful. The reality is my neighbors come from all places.”
People that live in the proposed area of St. George will be able to decide whether the city should be incorporated during the October election.