Three individuals went before the July 14 meeting of the Personnel committee for recommendation, all of whom were approved by the committee for hire or reclassification. Marcil Seals, a former Assistant Principal in the Lafayette School District, was approved to be hired as principal at West Side Middle in place of Melissa Ryan who transferred to a Ponchatoula school. James Keith, who has been serving as acting principal at Hammond Westside Upper was approved to become principal at the school. Keith took the place of Alexa Hookfin, who was also transferred to a different position. Terran Perry, who was serving as assistant principal of Ponchatoula High took the place of Marquita Jackson as principal of Natalbany Elementary.
Through two separate personnel committee meetings, four principals were approved and two assistant principals were approved. Being placed in Assistant Principal positions were Hugh Wallace to Hammond East Side Primary in place of Mary Correjolles and Tryphaena Lewis, a former Independence Middle teacher, to Ponchatoula Junior High in place of Daria Landry.
The coveted principalship at Hammond High School came a little later in the night, since Board members volleyed motions for executive session discussions, then offered motions to hold off hiring anyone, and still more motions were made to change stipulations on the position. The Board heard from both of their attorneys, Chris Moody and Charles Patin. Moody concentrated on the logistics and allowances of making motions, while Patin strongly suggested the Board approve a new principal immediately and deal with the ramifications later, if any.
Patin stated that the school system has made 14 administrative appointments or recommendations since November of 2009, and feels that the school system needs to continue to move forward. “We need to get this issue behind us,” Patin stated. He also said that he is certain the Board will go to trial at some point. “Unless you throw Mr. Troxclair under the bus, you will have a hearing one way or another,” Patin said.
The first motion of the night, which was offered after a 45 minute executive session to discuss the top two candidates for the HHS principal position, came from Danny Ridgel. He moved to accept Chad Troxclair as principal for HHS. With Sonya Traylor following suit, a substitute motion was made to appoint Troxclair for only the sabbatical term left vacant by former HHS principal Carmon Moore, and then re-open the position at the end of that term. Traylor said she felt the position should only be a temporary position since Carmon Moore “is and will be principal until his sabbatical term is over.” Chris Moody informed her that it was not prohibited to have two acting principals of a school, but the Board would have to deal with the outcomes that resulted. Her motion failed with a roll call vote of two yeas and seven nays coming from Eric Dangerfield, Rose Dominguez, Danny Ridgel, Robert Potts, Ann Smith, Al Link, and Tank Genco.
Eric Dangerfield made another motion to table the entire matter until a later date. President Ann Smith relinquished her chair and gavel to Vice-President Rose Dominguez in order to second his motion, only to have it fail by roll call vote. Link, Genco, Ridgel, Potts, and Dominguez all voted against tabling the matter.
A final motion was made to accept Superintendent Mark Kolwe’s recommendation of Chad Troxclair for Principal, and was met with a roll call vote in favor of Troxclair. Three Board members, Simmons, Traylor, and Dangerfield all voted against the approval of the Superintendent’s recommendation.
Only one person requested a chance to give public input for the night. This input was offered by a 30-year faculty member of Hammond High who expressed her feelings of limbo being without an administrator and leader for her school. “Regardless of our personal feelings,” she said, “This is about the students. Our students deserve a calm, organized atmosphere when they start school. Right now, the top rung of our ladder of success is vacant.”
The Tangipahoa Parish School Board meets again on Tuesday, August 3.