At the Jan. 11, 2022, Board of Education meeting, the Board approved a resolution for the Board of Education redistricting plan. The newly drawn districts were tweaked by the state reapportionment office, and the new maps had to be approved through a resolution to be resubmitted to the state.
Prior to the vote, Board member Marcus Scott IV reiterated that he thought there was a lot of gerrymandering on the maps and asked why they had to vote on the matter again. Verdell Jones said she understood the original map was rejected and tweaked because of the requirement for voter anonymity. She expressed her previous concern about her district being stretched out, but understood the reapportionment office stated the newly drawn maps met state requirements. Scott and Jones voted against the resolution. Board member James Johns, who voted against the redrawn map previously, was not at the meeting.
The subject of special needs and special education students came up again during audience participation. Houston, Texas, education advocate Gerry Monroe spoke, saying he decided to come to Liberty County in person to address the three people who were escorted out of the last BOE meeting Dec. 14, 2021. He said someone sent him a video showing Willie Brown Jr., Kisya Burnett and Angela Siets being escorted out by Hinesville police.
He said the same thing happened to him at his local school district in Houston.
“About eight months later, it cost them $300,000,” he said. “This is what you call a limited public forum. That means you may not like how I say things. You may not like what I say. But, according to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where we made case law, as long as I don’t curse you out or threaten you, you are going to sit there and eat that soup.”
He said he is typically a fiery speaker but added that he got a chance to sit down with Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry prior to the meeting and discuss several matters.
Monroe said he travels all across the country, meeting with school districts to right the wrongs, especially when it comes to special needs students. He said he specializes in finding federal violations being committed by school districts and fighting those battles in court.
“In every school district, there are federal violations,” he said. But he added he thinks the community and school system can come to a common resolve and said parents should be heard.
After the meeting, Monroe said he will continue to follow up. He did say that the LCSS is steps ahead in technology and education when compared to his district in Houston. He said he got a chance to tour schools in the system and was impressed. But he noted more funds need to be spent on the students’ needs.
Brown, who attended the meeting, pointed out certain line items where the LCSS will receive grant funding, saying some recreational programs will receive more funding than what is needed for the special needs students.
Dominique Wells spoke on behalf of his son and said the system has not given him the opportunity to speak and that he isn’t receiving the information he has requested to fight on behalf of his son.
“How come the parents can’t receive the same information the school has?” he asked.
Kisya Burnett spoke up, saying she keeps fighting for the sake of the children and will continue to speak out about the lack of concern from the Department of Exceptional Learning. She said she has yet to hear back from anyone regarding her concerns. She added the BOE must realize that many teachers have children, too, and if or when the educator’s family has to deal with a COVID exposure, the educators should be treated fairly.
The Board approved the consent agenda, which included: 1. Grant-funded system navigator positions 2. Grant-funded LPN position 3. Landscape service renewal 4. Replacement BI box truck The Board approved the system’s financial report and verified they all signed their conflict of interest and code of ethics.
The Board heard on the following informational items: 1 Superintendent midyear review 2. Replacement of stadium signs at BI and LFMS 3. Local facilities plan (LFP) application update 4. Strategic plan update 5. Purchasing 6. ESPLOST 7. Current grant awards 8. COVID update