Monroe City School Board: August 25, 2020 Minutes

Monroe City School Board of Education
2006 Tower Drive
Monroe, Louisiana 71201


The Monroe City School Board met in regular session, Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at Monroe City School District Central Office, 2006 Tower Drive, Monroe, Louisiana 71201. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by President Cooper. She offered prayer and led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Notice: In compliance with Governor Edwards’ Executive Order and the Attorney General’s open meetings guidance concerning the worldwide pandemic COVID-19, the Board will adhere to the twenty-five percent capacity attendance limit and practice social distancing while in the meeting. The meeting will be livestreamed to allow the community to virtually attend the meeting and see actions of the Board in real time.

Agenda Item 2C – Roll Call

Present: Mr. Rick Saulsberry, Ms. Jennifer Haneline, Mr. Bill Willson, Mr. Daryll Berry, Ms. Betty Ward-Cooper, Mr. Brandon Johnson and Mrs. Sharon Neal-Greer

Action Item 2D – Adoption of the Agenda

On a motion by Mr. Saulsberry and seconded by Ms. Haneline, the Board approved the agenda as printed. The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 3 – Consent Agenda Items

It was moved by Ms. Haneline and seconded by Mr. Berry, to approve July 28, 2020 board meeting minutes; approve policies: GAAA (Equal Employment Opportunity), GAE (Non-Title IX Grievance Procedure), GAEAA (Title VII Employee Sexual Harassment), GAMC (Investigations), JAAA (Title IX Sexual Harassment), and JCEA (Sexually Related Student Misconduct); approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Monroe City Schools and Carmel Hill Fund Education Program; adopted millage rates for 2020 and accepted and approved the Compliance Questionnaire for the Monroe City School Board for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 4 – Consent Agenda Items for Separate Consideration


Action Item 5A – Monroe City School District 2020-2021 Pupil Progression Plan

On a motion by Ms. Haneline and seconded by Mr. Berry, the Board approved the 2020-2021 Pupil Progression Plan as printed. The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 5B – Suspension of Board Policy BD Requiring a Second Reading of Policy

Attorney Lawrence noted that Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedures must be approved in August. Being that this is the last meeting of the month, the policy on second readings needs to be suspended prior to adoption of the grievance procedures.

On a motion by Ms. Haneline and seconded by Mr. Willson, the Board suspended policy BD requiring a second reading. The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 5C – Adoption of Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedures

On a motion by Ms. Haneline and seconded by Mr. Willson, the Board approved Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedures as printed. The motion carried on a unanimous vote.

Action Item 5D – Renaming of Robert E. Lee Junior High School

Dr. Vidrine shared with the Board the timeline and procedures for the name selection. He noted that the recommendation of the Renaming Committee is to change the name of Robert E. Lee Junior High School to Neville Junior High School.

It was moved by Mr. Willson and seconded by Ms. Haneline, to change the name of Robert E. Lee Junior High School to Neville Junior High School.

Mr. Saulsberry stated that it is not the responsibility of the committee to recommend a name. The committee should have submitted the top two or three names to the Board for consideration. Ms. Cooper responded that the committee was charged with making a recommendation to the Board; the final decision is left to the Board. Ms. Haneline stated that the process was followed; by doing so, it shows true integrity and transparency by the committee.

Mr. Johnson asked if the recommendation should be sent to the Facilities Committee for further vetting. Mr. Willson noted that this was a thorough process and all board members were encouraged to attend the community meeting at Lee Jr. High. He noted that only two board members attended the meeting – himself and Ms. Haneline.

Ms. Cooper inquired about the number of names submitted. Dr. Vidrine responded that forty-four difference names were submitted, and the committee recommended one.

Public Comment: Mr. Ibra January spoke of Mr. Matthew Williams’ credentials and service to Monroe City Schools and asked the Board to support naming the school in his honor. Mr. Franz Hill stated that he knew the name change would be a controversial decision. He further stated that it is important to know that the name will indeed be changed. Ms. Natalie Stevenson noted that two names were nominated by the Renaming Committee and she asked the Board to review the number of votes each received. She is in receipt of a petition with approximately three hundred names in support of Matthew Williams Junior High. Dr. Vidrine responded that no public vote took place; the poll was for name suggestions only.

Mr. Willson acknowledged that Mr. Williams was a great educator; however, there are numerous other educators that have personal ties to Lee Jr. High. He stated that the recommendation of the committee should be honored. Ms. Cooper stated that Mr. Neville has contributed greatly to the school district and a school (Neville High School) has already been named in his honor. She asked if someone else can be selected that is worthy of this recognition. Ms. Haneline reiterated that the committee considered all names and then made a recommendation. She noted that precedent has been set – there is Carroll High and Carroll Jr. High. This process was transparent, but it is being manipulated because someone doesn’t like the end results, and now they want to start the process over. It is her opinion that the name Robert E. Lee should not be on any educational institution in this country. Mr. Berry stated that Mr. Williams should be honored in some way. His name can be considered for the renaming of Thomas Jefferson Elementary. Mr. Willson responded that the same committee process should be followed if that school is renamed.

In favor: Ms. Haneline, Mr. Willson and Ms. Greer. Opposed: Mr. Saulsberry, Mr. Berry, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Cooper. The motion failed.

Note: Ms. Haneline left the meeting after the vote.

It was moved by Mr. Johnson and seconded by Mr. Saulsberry to send the renaming of Robert E. Lee Junior High to the Facilities Committee for a recommendation. Mr. Johnson asked the superintendent to submit the top three names.

In favor: Mr. Saulsberry, Mr. Berry, Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Greer and Ms. Cooper. Opposed: Mr. Willson. The motion carried on a majority vote.

Agenda Item 6A – June 2020 Financial Reports

Dr. Vidrine reported:
* Proposed budget available for public inspection – August 28th.
* Public Hearing and Finance Committee meeting for the 2020-2021 budget – September 8th.
* Preliminary June 2020 Financial Reports are in BoardDocs for detailed review.

Agenda Item 6B – Report of Superintendent

Dr. Vidrine announced:
* First day of school for virtual and face-to-face is Wednesday, August 26th.
* Hurricane Laura is being monitored for possible school closures.
* Primary Health Care will provide COVID-19 testing for students and staff.

Agenda Item 6C – Report of Board Members

Mr. Johnson stated that he will use his time to ask questions of the superintendent regarding Strong Start 2020. He inquired about changes that have been made by LDOE and the district since the last report. Dr. Vidrine responded that temperature monitors are in place at every location, touchless sanitizing stations are installed, mask and water bottles have been distributed, plant-based disinfectant instead of chemicals are being used, social distancing signage has been installed. Also, an email was sent to principals asking if there are any additional needs. Mr. Johnson noted that staff doesn’t have adequate cleaning supplies and all schools do not have webcams. Dr. Vidrine noted that staff can get supplies as needed and additional webcams have been delivered. Dr. Vidrine and Mr. Johnson agreed to tour schools together.

Mr. Berry stated that the superintendent has done a great job. He inquired about the contract being placed on the agenda. Ms. Cooper responded that it will be September’s agenda.

Mr. Willson commended Dr. Vidrine on leading the district. He indicated that a request was made by two Board members to place the superintendent’s contract on the agenda. The Board president assured them that it would be on the August agenda and she failed to do so. He stated that he is disappointed that the Board did not consider the name change as submitted by the Renaming Committee even after the process was followed.

Mrs. Greer announced a Finance Committee meeting on September 8th at 5:00 p.m. She thanked everyone for their prayers, calls and text during her family crisis.

Ms. Cooper reiterated that renewal of the superintendent’s contract will be an agenda item on the September board meeting agenda. She stated that the Board has adhered to the specified timeline and that his contract has not be violated.

Agenda Item 7 – Future Meetings

Future Meetings: September 15, 2020 and October 6, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.

Action Item 10 – Recess/Adjournment

There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 7:28 p.m.
Bottom of Form

/Betty Ward-Cooper/ /Brent Vidrine/
Betty Ward-Cooper Dr. Brent Vidrine
Board President Superintendent

Note: These minutes summarize the final decisions made by the Board at the referenced meeting. This meeting was also audio recorded and that recording is available for review by contacting the Board clerk at