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New School Board Member

Last night, the Jefferson Parish School Board appointed Rafael Rafidi to take the place of Larry Dale, who resigned his seat on the board at the end of last year. Mr. Rafidi’s appointment has proved controversial given statements he has made online and his lack of experience in education.

Unfortunately, the decision to appoint Mr. Rafidi was made without input from the community at large and stakeholders like JFT were not given a chance to vet Mr. Rafidi or provide feedback prior to the meeting on January 5th. Although we may come from different perspectives, we have been able to work with the present board on a variety of important issues. However, many of our members have expressed concerns about recently appointed board member Rafidi’s ability to serve impartially.
 
Among other controversial statements, Mr. Rafidi tweeted, “Teachers are the fall of our young people in this country. No values, no work ethic, and just suck as much as you can from those that work hard. Good job.” We know this opinion does not reflect the views of the School Board at large, and it exhibits a troubling lack of respect for the dedicated men and women that serve our students.
 
Teachers and students have endured nearly two years of pandemic-learning and it has been a grueling experience for educators and students alike. Too many teachers are already feeling a lack of respect for their profession. Given the current teacher shortage, we worry that comments like this from school board members could only exacerbate that pain and drive even more of our talented educators to leave the parish or their profession altogether.
 
Many JFT members have expressed serious concerns about Mr. Rafidi’s ability to serve a community as diverse as Jefferson Parish and we take those concerns very seriously. These statements about teachers are undoubtedly hurtful to those who have dedicated their lives to serve Jefferson Parish students.
 
As a Union that represents one of the most diverse parishes in the state, we will always advocate for representatives that can impartially serve all constituents. We will continue to fight for School Board members who understand the skill and complexity that goes into educating the next generation and respect the dedicated service of teachers and support personnel who sacrifice for their students every day.