ST. MARTIN PARISH, La. (KLFY) – St. Martin Parish School Board held its regular meeting Wed. Sept. 7th. Regarding the future of reopening Catahoula Elementary School, the 5th Circuit reserved the closure giving authority back to the school board to decide how to proceed.

The board decided to hold different listening sessions at various elementary schools in St. Martin Parish to hear from the community before moving forward with a new plan. While the meeting drew the attention of dozens, the school board allowed public comments before going into executive session to reveal the new plan. 

“They need our input to make the decision. If you have concerns, you need to come and voice those concerns so that way is moving forward, they can make decisions based on what’s going on in the community,” said Elleanor Batiste. 

Will McGrew, the CEO of Tele-Louisiane, went before the School Board and said having a french immersion school in Catahoula would help. He said, “We can have a great education, a school that’s a pillar of the community, and the ability to learn the language and culture of other grandparents.” 

He said being from New Orleans, he knows that even though there’s a different history, there’s a lot of overlap in terms of history segregation and racism. He believes after talking to a few of the different employees and the community members about bringing more Cajun French classes and Louisiana Creole classes into the class, they can turn an obstacle into an opportunity. 

“It’s a win-win scenario because you can bring more parents into the district either from surrounding districts or parents that currently have their kids in private schools they will enroll their kids back into the public schools and so that means much more funding is in a district, more enrollment is in the district, and then that enrollment is more diverse,” he said. 

“I think it is just the beginning. I’m young, and I’m in my 20s, so I realize I didn’t live through a lot of the painful history that a lot of our elders have lived through, but at the same time, I think we all have to come together and work to create a better tomorrow for all the kids regardless of race,” stated McGrew.

Batiste said, “Thus far, as long as our babies can stay in our communities, I’m good with that being that. Their opening the discussion, maybe they will be more transparent where everyone can see what’s going on and what’s the dynamics in our area.” 

She said it is important for parents to voice their opinions at the town hall meeting coming soon. 

“It’s very important. It impacts your kids, so make it your business to try to be there. You don’t want to be on the inside,” she said.