Superintendent responds to petition to fire Parkway HS principal - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Bossier School board responds to controversial comments over petition to fire Parkway HS principal

Posted: Updated: Nov 10, 2013 03:49 PM
Parkway High School Principal Nichole E. Bourgeois (Source: Parkway High School/Bossier Parish School Loop) Parkway High School Principal Nichole E. Bourgeois (Source: Parkway High School/Bossier Parish School Loop)
BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) -

The Bossier Parish School Board issued a statement Monday in response to the board president calling some of his constituents "morons."

School Board President Eddy Ray Presley made the comments Saturday in response to a petition created by a group of parents in South Bossier calling for the Bossier Parish School Board to fire Parkway High School Principal Dr. Nichole Bourgeois.

The creation of the petition came following a report on KSLA News 12 Thursday that a former Parkway High School nurse has filed suit against Bourgeois, the school district and the school system's nursing supervisor. Lori Rayborn is suing for punitive damages for what she claims was harassment and retaliation after she expressed concerns about a student who she says was bullied and later committed suicide, and for pointing out that those concerns were ignored.

Directed at all of the members of the Bossier Parish School Board and superintendent DC Machen, the change.org petition calls Dr. Nichole Bourgeois "a disgrace to the South Bossier community and Bossier Parish in general." It goes on to point out that Bourgeois has "multiple lawsuits" naming her as a defendant.

The organizers of the petition to remove Dr. Bourgeois say they wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, but they say the response so far shows there is support for their request. "In two days we have nearly 300 supporters, over 200 signatures on the petition so far," says one organizer. "We received several stories regarding why the individuals are signing the petition. Telling stories of Ms. Bourgeois bullying the parents, how one student's father committed suicide and on the third day after she returned to school, she was upset at school and was told by Dr. Bourgeois to suck it up and go back to class, things like that. The comments on the petition speak for themselves."

School Board President Eddie Ray Presley himself responded directly to the online petition Saturday, saying, "Would like to notify change. Org [sic] and the morons in soju [sic] bossier [sic] that the president of the school board does not have the power to fire or hire anyone except for he [sic] superintendent let's start a petition to for bobby jindal [sic] and the founder of change. Org [sic] for using my name without my permission." Presley goes on to suggest in the resulting exchange that the petition and a related Facebook page "could be seen as cyber bullying." Presley appears to be directly responding to the petitioners and their supporters on that page, as well.

The school board released the following statement regarding Presley's comments:

"It has come to the attention of the Bossier Parish School Board that an individual serving on the Board recently made remarks on social media sites.  The individual's remarks do not represent the views of the Board or the School District.  Bossier Parish School Board policy (BBBA) clearly states: 'The members of the Bossier Parish School Board shall have authority only when acting as a Board legally in session.  The Board shall not be bound in any way by any action or statement on the part of any individual Board member except when such statement or action is in pursuance of specific instructions from the Board."

The statement goes on to say that, "As your elected representatives, we value the opinions and input, whether positive or negative, from all people throughout Bossier Parish and strive to act fairly and impartially  for the greater good of the students and families we serve."

Presley's response on the petition site itself is correct in that the school board does not have the power to hire and fire. Under state law, that responsibility is delegated by the school board to the superintendent, who made clear in a statement Sunday that the petition will have no bearing on any employment decisions he makes.

"I will not validate grievances, personal attacks or agendas posted on social media sites about Dr. Bourgeois or any administrator or employee of Bossier Parish Schools by commenting on them," said Superintendent DC Machen in a statement released on Saturday afternoon. "As Superintendent of Bossier Schools, the Board delegates to me the authority to supervise the operations of the school system, including ensuring compliance with all school, state and federal laws. When evaluating any employee's effectiveness and performance, it is incumbent on me to strictly adhere to these specific guidelines and procedures that require validated evidence and documentation to support the assessment. Failure to do so negates and denies the employee's due process. In fulfilling my responsibilities as Superintendent, I can not be swayed by the court of personal opinion, nor will I set a precedence of subjecting principals or any employee of Bossier Schools to the unscrupulous vindictiveness of those with personal agendas by validating them with comments."

The petition points out that in addition to the suit brought by the former nurse, the family of the student who took her own life filed suit last year. In that suit, Jessica Morton claims Bourgeois and the school district did nothing to protect her daughter Danielle Cox from "constant bullying and harassment" at the hands of fellow student Jason Thomas and others. That suit is scheduled to go to trial in November of 2014.

Bourgeois, the school board and the Bossier City Police Department are also currently being sued by Live Oaks High School football coach Barry Musemeche, who was escorted off the Parkway High School football field in November of 2012 after refusing to remove his team from the field during pre-game warm ups. Bourgeois admitted after the game to removing Musemeche for not sticking to what she said was Parkway's pre-game itinerary.

The LSHSAA later sanctioned Parkway, denying the school the ability to host a playoff game in 2013. The Panthers finished the season undefeated on Friday, 9-0.

The anonymous organizers of the petition are looking for 500 signatures before they present it to the school board, which they believe does have the power to present it to the superintendent.

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