Orleans Parish School Board acting member Leila Eames has drawn two challengers in her bid for a full term at the District 1 headquarters to represent New Orleans East.
Eames was named to the seat in March, after board member John Brown Sr. resigned in March.
Patrice Sentino, who previously applied to be named to the interim seat in the spring, successfully qualified for the race last week, as did Deidra Louis. Sentino also ran against Brown in 2020.
“My vision for public education in Orleans Parish is that every student has the support and resources to reach their full potential,” Sentino wrote in response to questions from The Lens. “I will take a strong stance on equity and advocate for every student to be equipped with the appropriate resources, academic skills, tools, activities, and opportunities for academic success.”
Sentino is a licensed social worker and has worked as an assistant professor at Southern University in New Orleans in addition to leading the nonprofit Center for Hope Children and Family Services, which helps treat adults and children affected by mental illness, behavioral health and serious emotional problems. disturbance.
Sentino sees an increased need for learning and social-emotional support in schools across the city and believes the NOLA Public Schools District needs to “significantly increase academic performance.” Sentino also believes the district should work to “develop policies and practices that promote racial equity, accountability, and transparency.”
“A quality school district should embody the application of an explicit racial equity lens to policy development, broad access to quality schools and educational opportunities, equipping students for college and the workforce regardless of income, geography and race, ensuring that teachers receive the necessary and equitable distribution of resources and training, and inclusion of the voices of parents and community stakeholders” , she wrote.
Eames, who currently holds the interim seat and has qualified as a candidate for a full term, is a longtime resident of District 1. She has spent 33 years as an educator in the school district and has also worked in Title I programming—federal funding for low-income students—and eventually served as the school district’s executive director of federal programs, where she managed a $50 million annual budget. She also served on the board of the Lake Forest Charter School for 15 years.
“Every child deserves to receive a quality education with quality educators at their service,” she wrote. “I will hold the superintendent accountable for providing support and resources to schools. I will continue to align the needs of the school with the resources of all parishes so that collectively the children have everything they need to maximize their potential.
She raised concerns about school truancy and attendance issues, which have worsened during the pandemic.
“We need to work with the mayor and district attorney to resolve this issue,” she wrote. “Education is a perpetual role in our community, we can only implement plans when we fully understand them, that is my goal.”
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and NOLA public school officials are expected to address truancy and attendance at a press conference Monday afternoon.
Eames also said she would work to ensure district schools complied with special education laws and graduation requirements. Both have been a problem for district charter schools.
Last month, outgoing staff of NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis issued the district’s biggest warning to Einstein charter schools after learning that half of his high school’s senior class was ineligible for a diploma on graduation day. Of the promotion of 84 seniors, only 36 were eligible and only three were told they were not eligible. The issues described in the letter were very similar to issues uncovered during the John F. Kennedy High School graduation scandal in 2019.
The third candidate for the seat, Deidra Louis, did not respond to questions from The Lens.
The election is scheduled for November 8. To win in November, a candidate must obtain more than 50% of the total votes. Otherwise, the top two candidates from the November elections will advance to the second round on December 10.
District 4 Headquarters Opening
OPSB District 4 Representative, JC Romero quit last week get out of state. Romero was a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ and Spanish-speaking students and often spoke about his upbringing in New Orleans public schools having to act as a translator between educators and his mother. He edged out incumbent Leslie Ellison, who voiced anti-LGBT opinionsby almost 10 points in the second round of the 2020 election after Ellison missed an outright victory by less than a percentage point.
Last week, board chairman Olin Parker said Romero’s resignation was effective July 15, giving the district 20 days to fill the seat with an interim appointment.
On August 2, the board will hold a special meeting to select a new member. Interested candidates must submit their documents to the board by Friday.
After speaking with the Secretary of State, Parker said Romero’s resignation came too late to be able to place the District 4 seat on the ballot this fall alongside the District 1 seat. filling the District 4 vacancy will take place on March 25, with a run-off on April 29 if necessary.