SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - There were more contentious words Tuesday night as Caddo Parish School Board members debated whether to allow AMI Kids Caddo Charter School to move into the former Lakeshore Middle School campus.
Board members heard from concerned citizens and each other before giving the proposal the green light.
“If they can play 15 minutes without arguing, fighting or destroying something, I would be surprised,” District 5 board member Dr. Bonita Douzart said while discussing her constituents’ concerns.
“We don’t have no criminals and ‘those children.’ And I don’t like that ‘those children.’ And you don’t hear me say that. We don’t have ital ‘those children.’ Those are our babies,” District 12 board member Dottie Bell said.
The vote was 8-3 in favor of the move with one board member abstaining.
Earlier this month, community members walked out of a public meeting about the move. They said they weren’t notified about the meeting.
Residents also expressed concerns about moving what they described as troubled students into their neighborhood.
AMI Kids is an alternative charter school. Middle school students often are sent there because of things like expulsion or emotional issues stemming from problems in the home. In addition to academics, students are given counseling and taught behavior modification so they can get back on a positive track.
The charter school’s campus on Hutchinson Street doesn’t meet its needs, so it requested to use the vacant Lakeshore Middle facility.
The School Board’s approval means AMI Kids now will have a gym, an auditorium and other amenities it lacks at its current campus for exercise, parental involvement and more.
The charter school’s executive director and principal brought some students and parents with her to the meeting Tuesday to discuss the school’s mission.
“They are absolutely excited about it. Those parents that came have been a part of AMI since the inception. And those parents are excited because not only does it give their child opportunity for growth, but other children the opportunity for growth,” Gwendolyn Hamilton said.
There are 219 students attending AMI Kids Caddo. Hamilton said 155 attend voluntarily.
“AMI KIDS Caddo services the whole child. Our mission is to separate a troubled past from a bright future," Hamilton said.
"I believe wholeheartedly in AMI Kids Caddo and what we do as a school. I believe our work at AMI Kids Caddo is being implemented and exhibited through our students we service every day.”
AMI Caddo Kids will move onto the former Lakeshore Middle campus in the fall.