Letters for 06-22-2017

Board faces big task
Many in the community felt it was just a
matter of time.
Others voiced an opinion that it wasn’t likely
to happen.
“It” was the departure by D’Arbonne Woods
Charter School executive director Pam Schooler.
After her husband Hoff Schooler accepted
the position June 1 as head football coach at
Brusly High School on the west bank of the
Mississippi River across from Baton Rouge,
there was much speculation on whether she
would continue in her position. It ended last
week when she accepted a position as human
resources director for the Central Community
School System in East Baton Rouge Parish.
During her six-year stint, Schooler helped
the school achieve great goals.
When she began, the school went only
through the eighth grade. The Louisiana
Department of Education had given the school
a performance score of a “D” the year before
she assumed the position. The school added
a grade each year until the Class of 2016 was
the first to earn their degrees from DWCS. And
school performance increased as well. Last
fall, the school earned an “A” rating. She also
helped the school facilitate its transfer from two
temporary campuses to the school’s beautiful
$18 million campus that creates a stunning
entrance into Farmerville.
Her tenure, however, has also not been
without controversy.
Some say D’Arbonne Woods has become
a publicly funded private school. A selective
admissions policy is supposedly supported by
a lottery system that admits students according
to those who have previously applied for
admissions. Statistics show enrollment in Union
Parish schools show black students to be the
majority, while at D’Arbonne Woods less than
25 percent are black or Hispanic.
Many in the parish have said they feel like
Schooler never bought into the community
that supports the school. Driving in from
Lincoln Parish each morning, they said she
rarely crossed Lake D’Arbonne to take part in
community events.
Last year, two long-time supporters of the
school resigned from its board of directors. One
of the board members – who had helped almost
since the school’s inception – said publicly he
felt forced out because he questioned how the
school’s affairs were being conducted. And
even though it is within its powers to do so,
many Union Parish residents – whose taxes help
support the school – questioned that two board
members chosen to take their places both live in
Lincoln Parish. Another board member resigned
within weeks and was replaced by someone
Schooler had forced out as a faculty member
some years earlier.
Many feel the board currently directing the
school was hand picked by Schooler to support
her leadership. Some have questioned whether
it lacks the ability to pick a successor who can
build on the school’s strengths and close the
gaps that obviously exist.
Our hope is that they can. The community
cannot afford to have an asset like D’Arbonne
Woods squandered.