Bay St. Louis residents packed the City Council meeting Tuesday to witness the nomination and subsequent ratification of long-time educator Ann Lathrop to the Bay-Waveland School District’s school board. The move meant the removal of Joan Thomas, who was the only minority serving on the board.
Much of the conversation at the meeting centered around race as it pertains to the Hancock County community and Thomas’ previous voting record.
Reed opened the meeting by reading a letter he received in the mail that called him the N-word several times.
Below are some of the comments from the 20-minute portion of the meeting, most coming from Ward 3 councilman Jeffery Reed and Mayor Mike Favre.
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On the appointment
Favre: “The appointment is not about color, it’s not about that, it’s about what’s best for our children. We started this process in October to find the best person for this position.”
Favre: “I have not had one single person express a concern about her ability to represent all of our kids in the Bay-Waveland School District with the utmost integrity. I am confident that Mrs. Lathrop will be a highly engaged board member and work with fellow board members to ensure financial responsibility, transparency to the public and advancement of student achievement.”
Favre was asked if he would consider nominating Thomas.
Favre: “No, I will not based on her voting record. I sent y’all a memorandum last week. I asked if any of y’all had any discussions or concerns and if you wanted to talk, feel free to contact me. It’s all laid out. If you want to get deep into it tonight, we can.”
A councilman told Favre he believes a minority needs to be on the board
Favre: “I also agree. But I also believe we’re not to say what a minority is.”
Following commotion from the audience, Favre continued, before being drowned out again by the crowd.
Favre, in part: “A lady is a minority.”
On the potential change
Reed: “You’re taking diversity off the school board. When you take diversity off the school board and the school board doesn’t look like the school system, I think it’s a step backwards from the justice department … It leaves the Asians, Hispanics, African Americans unrepresented.”
On Lathrop, again
Favre: “If I thought she would not represent every child in that community, she wouldn’t be sitting here right now. (Applause) … If you have reason that you don’t believe that, then shame on you.”
On wanting someone his kids can relate to
Reed: “When my children walk out my door every morning, I think they need to see somebody like them in a leadership position, because although we live in the same town, we live in the same county, we live in the same state, there’s a different culture. Having that different culture, we need somebody on the school board that understands my culture; who understands where I came from; who understands how I think; who understands where we’re going. Again, Mrs. Lathrop taught my children. My children loved her. Said she’s a great teacher. But here’s the thing, she’ll walk out one door and my kids walk out another door. I need somebody in there to implement the values I taught them at the dinner table. I need somebody who comes from where I came from. I need somebody they can look to and say, ‘I know you; you live right down the street.’”
On the nomination
Favre: “I just feel like Mrs. Lathrop is the best person for the position to lead the school board forward. If you cannot find a reason that that’s not true, then I ask you to ratify that appointment.”
After some discussion Reed asks Favre about not nominating Thomas
Reed: “There’s nothing personal that comes into this?”
Favre: “No. It’s not personal at all.”
The Council ultimately approved Favre’s nomination on a 5-2 vote with Reed and Ward 5 Councilman Buddy Zimmerman voting no.