BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX)
The Bay St. Louis city council voted to replace a school board member, leaving some unhappy Tuesday.
The mayor and city council voted in educator Anne Lathrop, replacing incumbent Joan Thomas on the Bay-Waveland School Board. But, not all city leaders agreed with the decision.
Councilman Jeffrey Reed said he feels Thomas should remain on the Board. Others in the community agree, saying Thomas is the only African-American member and should remain there.
"I think [the students] need to see somebody like them in that leadership position," said Reed.
"Tonight was a huge setback for the minority, the African-American community," said Gregory Barabino with the Hancock County NAACP. "The non-whites will have no representation on the board for the children that are different or a different nationality."
But Mayor Mike Favre says his appointment of Lathrop has nothing to do with race and was made instead because she's the most qualified person for the job. Mayor Favre also said he did not want to nominate Thomas for the school board seat due to her voting record.
Thomas admitted her position has clashed with fellow board member Casey Favre, the mayor's son.
"His son voted for a workshop. I voted against it," said Thomas.
Thomas said she believes her voting the opposite way of his son influenced the mayor's decision, particularly on the issue of a move to consolidate the Bay-Waveland and Hancock County school districts.
"After Hancock County schools wrote a letter that they were not interested in consolidation, they wanted us to attend a workshop," said Thomas. "And I didn't see the need to attend the workshop after Hancock would not go for the consolidation because it can't happen unless both school districts want to do it."
The mayor and council's decision marks the first time in almost 20 years that an African-American will not serve on the Bay-Waveland School Board.
The council approved Lathrop's appointment by a 5-2 vote, after Councilman Reed's motion not to ratify the appointment failed.