The East Baton Rouge School board made a decision last week about the future of the students in Baton Rouge and what it will and will not accept for students. Its vote not to renew the Superintendent’s contract was a close one and a tough one. Anyone engaged in the conversation about public schools knew this vote would be fraught with emotion.
What very few expected was that this conversation about public schools would devolve into vitriol and lies. A small number of elected officials and organized advocates have been making false and shameful allegations that the Baton Rouge Alliance for Students and our CEO, Adonica Pelichet Duggan, have engaged in illegal acts with certain school board members. The Alliance submits that these allegations are absolutely baseless and are defamatory. There is no proof as to these allegations because they are categorically untrue and unfounded.
Thursday night’s dialogue was heated. That’s to be expected when there are strong feelings at play and a person’s professional status is at stake. Among the values we hold here at the Alliance is the belief that adults must be held accountable for children’s learning. They must also be held accountable for their actions. We certainly hope that these allegations will stop. However, those who continue to repeat and share the unfounded and defamatory allegations against our organization and CEO will be held accountable. We have a legal right to protect ourselves from false and defamatory statements, and we will exercise it.
Instead of spreading lies, we encourage the few people perpetuating the false narrative to put their focus on the students in Baton Rouge. As a community, we can and should be acting to ensure our students gain access to the futures their families want for them. We live in a city where just 37 percent of our public school students read on grade level, and only 24 percent do math on grade level. If you agree with the Alliance that an excellent education is every child’s birthright, then it’s those statistics that should outrage you, not the false statements being spread by this group of individuals.