Supporters for French Immersion Program show up to parish School Board meeting

By Jim Wilkerson

The Lincoln Parish School Board meeting on Tuesday night began with an anomalously large crowd in attendance. Roughly 100 parents and students who support the French Immersion Program at Glen View gathered at the entrance of the STEM building, holding signs (many in French) and imploring Board Members to continue the program which is scheduled to be shut down at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.

When Board President Joe Mitcham opened the meeting to public comment, one of the adults in the crowd requested that the supporters be added to the agenda so that they could speak.

A roll call vote then ensued, with five of the members voting “no.” Mitcham informed the crowd that while they would not be placed on the agenda, they would have an opportunity to speak at the question-and-answer meeting at Glen View’s gym on Thursday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m., which will be led by Superintendent Ricky Durrett.

“If you’re not satisfied then, then you are welcome to be on the floor possibly in January,” Mitcham said. “Since [Durrett] had already allowed this to proceed on Thursday, we always like to see if, first, you can work it out with the administration and then bring things to the Board.”

David Gullatt, one of the five who voted “no,” explained the reason for his vote to the crowd:

“I do appreciate your coming,” he said. “I have a deep experience with CODOFIL. My vote for ‘no’ was simply I want to know more information as I think every Board Member that expressed a ‘no’ vote has that same idea. I think the program is a good program. I just need to know more about it as a Board Member, and I will be in attendance at the question-and-answer session that you all have Thursday. That will help me make a better decision, and you certainly are most welcome to come back again to the January meeting. But I just need to know more information as I’m sure other Board Members do. So, I do thank you for coming. I see that it is important, and I just need to know more.”

Mitcham’s and Gullatt’s comments appeared to have appeased the crowd who responded with applause. The regular Board meeting then commenced without any commotion or objection, and it was over in less than 20 minutes.

After the meeting, packets with information concerning the French Immersion Program were handed to all the Board Members. Then, all the students in attendance gathered together and recited the Pledge of Allegiance in French, which was met with applause from all the Board Members and parents.