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Parkway High School petitioners obtain legal counsel, controvers - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Parkway High School petitioners obtain legal counsel, controversy continues in south Bossier

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Photo courtesy: Bossier Parish School Board, Parkway High School Photo courtesy: Bossier Parish School Board, Parkway High School
BOSSIER CITY, La. -

Two years as Positive Behavior Support Team Leader at Parkway High School - that's the first of 15 professional notes listed on Dr. Nichole Bourgeois' resume.

The irony is that many say a lack of positive behavior by students and administration is at the core of a firestorm of controversy.

"Almost everyone wants to remain anonymous because their children are either in that school or they will be in that school."

Attorney John Settle is referring to a group of people behind an online petition at change.org to remove Bourgeois as principal of Parkway.

The petition, which gained steam in just a few days time, now has over 600 supporters.

But according to the petitioners, who call themselves the Parkway Education Coalition, their choice of anonymity stems from concerns over retaliation from school administration.

RELATED STORY: South Bossier community divided over Parkway High School principal

"Dollars and resources that should stay in the school system, either at Parkway or in the Bossier Parish School System, are being expended to defend legally the actions of this principal."

Settle says those expenses are a result of three lawsuits naming Bourgeois as a defendant.

The most recent, filed November 7th, by former Parkway nurse Lori Rayburn, alleges retaliation and demotion from school administration after pointing out problems with the handling of student medical issues, and that severe student bullying and harassment had been ignored.

That bullying is what another lawsuit, filed by the family of former PHS student Danielle Cox claims led to 15-year-old Cox's 2011 suicide.

"We're looking at fees in two lawsuits which are over $58,000 and the lawsuits aren't even close to being resolved," says Settle.

Rayburn's lawsuit claims she and a school counselor noticed something was 'off' about Cox's behavior leading up to her death, and that they reported their concerns through an assistant principal to the Bossier Parish School System.

According to Rayburn, 'nothing was done' to address the bullying, or to protect the student.

"There continues to be actions by this principal which seem to show that the school board or else the superintendent don't care or believe that they're 'okay.'"

Though it's Bossier Parish Schools policy not to comment on pending litigation, Superintendent D.C. Machen did release a statement in response to the petition.

That read - in part - 'When evaluating any employee's effectiveness and performance, it is incumbent on me to strictly adhere to these specific guidelines and procedures that require validated evidence and documentation to support the assessment.'

And not everyone is on board to have the 2005 Bossier Parish teacher of the year removed from her position.

"When this new school was being built, they needed to find a strong leader, and they chose Dr. Nichole Bourgeois to be that strong leader," says Parkway parent Tim Wheelahan.

Wheelahan says being a stickler for rules doesn't make a person a bully.

"When she came in, it was sometimes different from the ways that it was done and so she stepped on a few toes and there were some that opposed but it's all been positive."

And this comment from the petitioners' Facebook page - "Tyrants like her" are the types of people that get things done. A large majority base their comments on things they've heard from unreliable sources."

RELATED STORY: Petition launched in support of firing of Parkway High School principal

Then there's the 2012 playoff game forever marred for both schools by the image of visiting Live Oak High School coach Barry 'Tut' Musemeche being led off the field in hand-cuffs.

Bourgeois stated in subsequent LHSAA testimony that Musemeche jerked his arm away from Parkway's Student Resource Officer as the Live Oak football team looked on.

But Musemeche disagreed, filing his own lawsuit against the school system and Bourgeois, stating that Bourgeois ordered the officer to 'cuff him. Get him off the field. Cuff him'

That resulted in Parkway being barred from hosting any play-off games, and losing out on thousands in revenue.

"This is not a witch hunt. This is a concern for Parkway and the educational system," Settle says.

Bourgeois is one of only two principals in Bossier Parish who hold a doctorate degree.

According to her resume, she was Teacher of the Year in 04-05 while at Airline High School.

Settle says he plans to go before the Bossier Parish School Board in January on behalf of the petitioners.

According to public records, nearly $58,000 in legal fees have been submitted as invoices to the BPSB.

$19,000 - so far - for the lawsuit filed by Musemeche, and $38,000 in fees have been accrued from the lawsuit filed by Danielle Cox's family.

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