EBR teachers, parents, students protest superintendent’s ‘Smart Start Plan’ at school board meeting

EBR teachers protest 'Smart Start Plan'

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Hundreds of East Baton Rouge Parish teachers, parents, and students protested the superintendent’s ‘Smart Start Plan’ at the school board meeting on Thursday, April 15.

Superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse wants to move the first day of school to July 28 to address learning gaps created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers sounded off inside the meeting, saying they felt blindsided about the proposal.

“It feels like we’re not listened to, it feels like we’re underappreciated, it just seems like our opinions don’t matter,” said Kathy Baker. “It comes across as, ‘This is what we’re going to do, so this is what you need to do.’”

Baker added she took issue with the fact that other teachers weren’t included in the talks about this change.

“Some people found out in parking lots from parents. I found out from a student. So, it’s not even as if we were given the common courtesy to even know this change was happening and even when we talked about it, it’s almost like they want our opinion but they’re not taking it,” Baker explained.

Others shared the same opinion.

“For me, it’s how they went about it; it’s the premise,” said Jessica Ayala. “I would really like to see some data on where these achievement gaps are because that’s the way to really fix a problem is when you can target it specifically.”

Even students pushed back on the idea.

“I feel like they’re disproportionately representing us by taking those who aren’t under these rules and trying to cram stuff down us,” said Michael Juneau. “I think students and teachers should be involved in the decision of the schools and not those that aren’t in the schools.”

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Leaders with the East Baton Rouge Parish Association of Educators said they are willing to come to a compromise but they want a seat at the table to have these types of talks.

“We’re willing to come to the table and make compromises and things like that but when you don’t consult us at all, that’s wrong,” said Candita Sims.

The EBR School Board will vote on the ‘Smart Start Plan’ on April 22.

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