Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pastorek's $500,000 goof spawns lawsuit

An admitted mistake by State Superintendent of Education could cost the Union Parish School Board a half-million dollars. That has prompted the school board to file a federal lawsuit against Pastorek.

As was first reported by Monroe News-Star journalist Barbara Leader, Pastorek failed to notify the Union Parish board that a proposed charter school would be considered at the last meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In an e-mail to Union Parish Superintendent Steve Dozier, Pastorek said he was "shocked" to learn that BESE had approved a charter for the D'Arbonne Woods Charter School.

The Union Parish board had twice refused to accept D'Arbonne Woods as a parish charter school. Supporters of the school in 2007 were granted a Type II charter, which can be approved by BESE if the local school board denies the request.

Under rules in place in 2007, the Type II charter school would have been funded completely by the state. But under new regulations, those charters are entitled to local school funds. If the school opens as scheduled on August 15, the Union Parish School Board will be forced to give it some $500,000, a significant share of the parish's $15 million education budget.

In his e-mail to Dozier, Pastorek said he did not believe BESE would grant the charter to D'Arbonne Woods:
"My fault, I should have let you know. Frankly we were asked to bring it up in
June, but I didn't because there weren't enough votes. I was asked to bring it
up again, but didn't believe it had the votes. I was shocked that it passed."

Pastorek suggested that the parish issue a charter to the school as a way to avoid a lawsuit.

But as Barbara Leader reports in this article, the board filed a suit in federal court asking to halt the charter school from opening on August 17. U.S. District Judge Robbie James told the parties that he will try to rule quickly on the case.

Today the State Department of Education issued a terse statement from Pastorek, saying that he has "reached out" to the community and hopes that the suit can be resolved "through terms that allow both groups to successfully educate students in Union Parish."

1 comment:

Eric L. said...

I have an idea. Since Mr. Pastorek neglected to notify the Union Parish School Board about the BESE agenda, and since he has admitted his failure, Mr. Pastorek should give his "world-class" salary to the Union Parish School Board.

This would not be enough to find education to "world class" standards in the parish; however, it would show that Mr. Pastorek truly has the interests of public school children in his heart. Having never attended a public school, this donation would demonstrate that the state superintendent of education isn't really looking out for his own and his private/charter school allies' agenda.