BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Leaders for Baton Rouge’s parks and recreation system, BREC, will send East Baton Rouge Parish School Board president Mike Gaudet a formal request to remove board member Connie Bernard as the school system’s appointed BREC liaison.
Other commission members took a vote Thursday, June 25, after a tense discussion, reverse discrimination claim, and racist audio hack.
Read more on that meeting by clicking the link here.
The request is mainly symbolic.
Bernard’s removal or continued appointment as the school board’s liaison falls under the discretion of board president Gaudet. The decision ultimately rests with him and the input of other school board members.
The discussion is happening now because Bernard is again facing an onslaught of scrutiny during her tenure as District 8 representative for the school system.
The latest controversy centers on comments made by Bernard which implied members of the public needed to perform more research into the legacy of confederate commander Robert E. Lee before supporting calls to strip Lee’s name from a Baton Rouge high school.
Bernard was later accused of avoiding conversations about the name change and her comments after a photo of her computer screen began circulating social media during a school board discussion on the topic.
That photo shows an online clothing shop’s website pulled up on Bernard’s browser window at some point during the meeting.
An impassioned speech from a community activist who snapped the photo spread across social media, making Bernard the target of national ridicule.
Four of her school board colleagues called on Bernard to resign. Other members publicly denounced her statements and actions.
Bernard, in a statement, said she will not resign.
“I regret that I have become a distraction to the important work we have to do to educate our children. After prayerful consideration and consultation with my family and friends, I will continue to serve all students as elected by my district three times,” said Bernard.
Legally, the school board is not able to remove one of its own members.
A voter recall is the only plausible way forward outside of Bernard resigning willingly.
Those four school board members have joined efforts to rally voters in Bernard’s district to petition for the recall.
Twenty-five percent of people in Bernard’s district would need to sign the recall petition within the next three months for it to have an effect. Her school board term ends in 2022, otherwise.
Should Gaudet choose not to remove Bernard as the school board’s liaison to BREC, Bernard’s term would expire December 31, 2020.
It’s unclear if she would be eligible to be reappointed for the role.
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