Thanking Brian O’Nuanain publicly is my first intent with this writing, but his message [You should listen to the radio story…] has such a deeper resonance for citizens that most listeners of Red River Radio probably missed. Brian’s journey is a beautiful and also tragic tale on the surface, but a secondary message of his love for education and a value for true educators requires a second telling.
Brian is an educator whose words demand a greater audience because the mission of true educators, blessed and cursed with a deep desire to impart knowledge and wisdom to a larger audience, is always a tragic tale today.
The love of teaching Brian bares as he reveals the Read more
By John Settle
It’s never fun to read about one’s home town in the national media in a negative way. If you are a reader of USA Today, the Tuesday (March 25) edition is a paper to toss; a column listed the top 10 cities for “overall well-being”, and there was Shreveport-Bossier listed at 182.
The 2013 Gallup-Healthways ratings are based on more than 500,000 interviews in which people were asked about their emotional and physical health, job satisfaction, community safety, and access to food, shelter and health care. This is the sixth year of the survey, and for the second time the Provo Utah area was first; others in the top five included Boulder Colorado, Fort Collins Colorado, Honolulu Hawaii, and San Jose California. The five worst cities were Huntington/Ashland West Virginia/Ohio, Charleston West Virginia, Redding California, Spartanburg South Carolina, and Hickory North Carolina. Read more
It goes without saying that elected officials should show up for meetings of the public body they serve. And when “grading out” public servants, attendance and votes at meetings are the easiest and most non-refutable measuring sticks.
Seemingly, Bossier school board veteran Kenneth Wiggins has lost his zeal for his job. Wiggins missed 18 of the 24 board meetings last year (2013) and 1 of the 2 meetings this year (through February 6).
Wiggins began his current term in January of 2011. In the 69 meetings since that date he has missed 31; in baseball terms he is averaging 55% attendance of the Read more
Parkway High School Principal Dr. Nichole Bourgeouis continues to cost the Bossier Parish School Board (BPSB) big bucks, – and there is no end in sight. Like an ostrich, Bossier Superintendent D.C. Macken stands by his man, – ah woman, and the state law that says only he not the school board can remove a principal.
Bourgeois made national news last fall for having a Five Oaks High School football coach arrested prior to a playoff football game at Parkway High School. Litigation has been filed by the coach against Bourgeois and the BPSB over that incident. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association sanctioned Parkway by denying the school the ability to host playoff games this year.
Parkway’s undefeated regular season team had to play its first 2 playoff games away from the Read more
In what is certainly a first for northwest Louisiana (and is a sign of the times), a social media campaign is being waged by south Bossier residents against Parkway Principal (Dr.) Nichole Bourgeois and the Bossier Parish School Board (BPSB). Utilizing a online website change.org, over four hundred Bossier residents and Parkway alumni have electronically signed a petition to have the controversial Bourgeois ousted from her job. This brouhaha has no signs of letting up, and the “petition posse” may be seeking legal action in the near future.
The backdrop of the story is three serious incidences that have, to date, been whitewashed by school officials. Bourgeois made national news last fall for having Five Oaks High School football coach arrested prior to a playoff football game at Parkway High School. Litigation has been filed by the coach against Bourgeois and the BPSB over that incident. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association sanctioned Parkway by denying the school the ability to host a playoff game this year.
Bourgeois is also the key player in litigation filed last spring against BPSB by the family of a student who committed suicide. The suit alleges that Bourgeois and the school district did nothing to protect the child from “constant bullying and harassment” by fellow students. This suit is scheduled to go to trial in November of next year.
Another suit was filed earlier this month naming Bourgeoisas a defendant along with the school’s nurse coordinator and the BPSB. This litigation is a “whistle blower” action, alleging reprisals against the plaintiff after she expressed concerns about a student who she says was bullied and later committed suicide. This litigation seeks punitive damages for harassment and retaliation.
The BPSB president Eddie Ray Presley poured fuel on the Parkway fire by referring to the online petitioners as “morons in South Bossier.” The BPSB quickly issued a statement distancing the Board from Presley’s remarks, stating that the “remarks do not represent the views of the Board or the School district…” Bossier School Superintendent D.C. Machen also released a statement that he “would not validate grievances, personal attacks or agendas posted in social media sites about Dr. Bourgeois or any administrator or employee of Bossier Parish Schools by commenting on them.” Machen also made it clear that under state law he, not the School Board, would decide Bourgeois’ fate.
Many parents believe that the state of affairs at Parkway High School is not the rosy picture that Machen and the BPSB have painted. A public records request has been made to Machen for legal fees expended by the BPSB on all litigation involving Bourgeois. Another public records request is for the number of suicides at Parkway High School while she has been assigned to that school, and the number of suicides at all other Bossier Parish Schools during this time period. A last public record request has also been made for the beginning and ending school enrollments for the same time interval at all Bossier Parish Schools, along with the drop out and transfer numbers for each school for these years.
The website change.org has many comments about Bourgeois that are not complimentary, to say the least. Only those persons who will publically “sign” list their name can have comments posted. Most parents of Parkway students fear repercussions against their children and thus have only “signed” the petition without posting comments. Their names are not made public, but are available to the petition organizers.
At some juncture the BPSB and Machen must deal with the uproar over Burgeois. Parents can express their dissatisfaction in many ways, – – withdrawal of financial support for school athletics and organizations, recall petitions against school board members, and possible litigation against Machen and the Board for malfeasance in office. Machen and the Board have enjoyed a long rope by Bossier residents who rubber stamped an excessive bond package and have rarely held Board staff or school officials to task. This time its looking like south Bossier, which is often treated as the red headed step child by Bossier governmental bodies, will demand to be recognized and not ignored, – – and rightly so.
Recent litigation to overturn the April 21 bond/tax election for the Bossier Parish School Board (BPSB) uncovered the existence of the Citizens Investing in Bossier School & Students (CIBSS). This group operated as a front to raise funds and make expenditures promoting the tax elections. Full details are not known at this time because the BPSB has not fully complied with two public records requests (PRR).
Initially, the failure of the BPSB to provide approximately 150 emails regarding the CIBSS to a PRR dated April 27, 2012 is most likely a violation of the Louisiana Public Records Act. Many of the CIBSS emails should have been included in the response to that public records request.
What is known about CIBSS is indeed interesting. It’s no surprise that the BPSB’s high dollar public relations liaison Sonja Bailes coordinated the actions of the CBISS. The members of this hand picked group included Carol Presley, Mike Poole, Richey Jackson, Read more
The following is the text of the Appeal of action regarding Bossier Parish School Board Tax Election. The Matter is still open to court action after today’s plea before the Louisiana Second Court of Appeals in Shreveport.
by John Settle
[John Settle before the court]
Members of the Court,
It is an honor to address you two days before the Fourth of July–Independence Day; Wednesday we will celebrate our freedom–the day the Declaration of Independence was signed…
… a declaration, and subsequent revolution, that was triggered by Americans complaining of Taxation Without Representation.
Today before you is a case that involves TAXATION BY FRAUDULENT REPRESENTATION…utilizing public dollars, public employees, and public resources of the Bossier Parish School Board And it’s a case that is tainted by the failure of a judge to recuse himself DESPITE substantial, and important, contacts with the Bossier Parish School Board.
And a judge that hurried the presentation of the plaintiff’s case by constant comments in chambers and at bench conferences that if the case was not completed by 1 pm on the day of the trial (June 25th) that it would be continued for several weeks…
Counsel has alleged a “no right of action” defense under LRS 18:1401 and under LaCCP Art 927 B this exception may be noticed by you–the appellate court.
Does the Court want to address this issue now?
JOHN E. SETTLE, JR.
Attorney at Law
1915 Citizens Bank Drive
Bossier City, LA 71111
The balance of politics and the future growth of Bossier Parish is in the hands of Louisiana’s Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport this morning. The appeal of the Benton 26th JDC decision may be known later today. However, the manner in which the decision in Benton was reached and the process of elections in Bossier Parish is also up for review. Stay tuned for report once any results are known.
Bossier Parish is historically referred to as “The Free State of Bossier.” This week the Bossier Parish School Board with the help of a friendly judge tried to put another star on the seal of their “Free” state, but they may still have to earn it. The decision of Bossier District Judge Jeff Cox to approve the April tax election was not unexpected, and Attorney John Settle has already filed a challenge to the decision. Settle said, “I believe that the integrity of the governmental process is critical , and that the actions of the BPSB not only betrayed the voters of Bossier Parish but also resulted in the passage of this bond issue.” Settle indicated that the case could be heard as early as next week.
Settle’s appeal lies in many issues, but the challenge is primarily based on a desire to ferret out the truth concerning the manipulation of Bossier citizens by those in power. Read more
If a reader were to poll his neighbors about what to expect the rest of the month, no doubt that hot weather and no rain would be on the list, -and, probably at the top. For those neighbors that follow politics, this month will have a few happenings of interest.
For starters, all readers should be thankful that the latest episode of political sausage making is over, –the 2012 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature ended on Monday, June 4th. Nonetheless the daily headlines of doom and gloom from Baton Rogue will most likely continue for the rest of the month (year?), as state agencies try to adjust their budgets to live within the reality of today’s economic times. In any event, taxpayers should get some relief that this annual circus has ended, and that a few months will pass before the presidential election starts revving up on the local level.
For supporters of Bossier’s Operation Exodus, the end of the month could be the death kneel for one of Bossier Sheriff Larry Dean’s most ignominious ideas. Julian Whittington will take office on July 1, and hopefully he will promptly disband Dean’s paramilitary group that is equipped with heavy artillery to protect the parish from unknown, unidentified insurgents. It is expected that new Sheriff Whittington will make several changes as soon as Dean takes off his star.
For the “customers” of Shreveport City Court, i.e. the lawyer crowd primarily, June may bring progress in the long stalled process of selection of a new Clerk for the Shreveport City Court. Several months back, a selection committee chaired by Zelda Tucker was named by Chief Judge Bill Kelly. Unfortunately, no committee meeting have been held as of this date, albeit Tucker promises to try to schedule one this month.
Bossier property owners, who are anticipating a substantial tax hike from the four year re-assessments this year, may be heartened by pleadings to be filed in mid month to void the recent Bossier Parish School Board (BPSB) tax renewal for expenditure of $210 million of capitol spending. This writer has previously disclosed unlawful expenditures Read more