Narcisse steps down as EBR Superintendent

BATON ROUGE — East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse announced Friday morning that he is resigning as Superintendent of EBR Schools.

The fallout comes after The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board voted 5-4 in December not to renew Narcisse’s contract when it expires in June. The board voted against a 22% pay raise that would have raised his base salary to $310,000 and instead opted not to renew the contract at all.

Narcisse was hired as the superintendent in January 2021.

School board President Carla Powell-Lewis said Narcisse agreed to a voluntary buyout that includes a severance package that will go before the school board for a vote at a special meeting Monday at 5 p.m. Five votes are needed to approve the agreement.

Powell-Lewis said the school board is expected to name an interim superintendent on Saturday.

“I think it’s now time to transition to a new leader to come in to be able to continue to build on that work. We’ve been able to bring it to this level, and we want to take it to another level,” Narcisse said. “After talking to my family and connecting with other folks who are close to me, it’s time for me to move on.”

Progress over the years

Friday, Narcisse spoke about the progress the school district has made in the last three years. He said a few years ago, only 2,000 of 10,000 high school students in the district were taking advanced courses that included AP, dual enrollment, or industry-based certifications. Now, there are 6,000 high school students enrolled in those courses.

He noted that over 1,000 more kids were enrolled in early childhood programs.

Capitol High jumped from an F to a C after being re-integrated into the East Baton Rouge Parish School District. From 2008 to 2023, the school was a part of a charter system.

“I’m happy to say that the fruits of our labor have started to come out where you can actually see tremendous progress,” he said. “I always tell people to remember where we came from. During Covid, kids were behind reading, and they had to catch up, and there were a lot of things we had to do.”

Vote not to renew marked the end

The board’s denial of Narcisse’s contract renewal was seemingly the beginning of the end of his tenure as superintendent.

The 5-4 vote came after nearly three hours of debate, with people speaking passionately on both sides of the issue. The new contract would have made Narcisse the highest-paid superintendent in the state.

Powell-Lewis and Board Vice President Patrick Martin were two of the five who voted against renewing Narcisse’s contract.

“What I have seen in this role since January of 2023 has been a level of disorganization,” said Powell-Lewis at the December meeting. “I’ve also seen that we have teachers who are no longer happy in their roles. I have worked in different districts, including this one, and teachers, just for the small things of receiving commendations or extra opportunities, will jump through hoops for kids, and the morale is down. It’s lower than what I’ve ever seen in this district. And I have lived here all 44 of my years. We have talent in this state that has not been tapped. That is why I am making this particular vote.”

During that meeting, several people suggested that people’s minds were already made up before the meeting began.

“You’ve already decided what you wanted to do, which makes me feel as though I’m defeated,” East Baton Rouge Parish Federation of Teachers President Angela Reams-Brown said. “The superintendent is the person who suggested that an 8 percent pay raise be given across the board, but our board members voted no,” she continued. “The governor suggested that a pay raise be given to teachers or support workers of this state, but our legislators voted no. I’m not going to argue about the salary because I don’t get paid for that. That’s your job. I believe he is the best bet for this district.”

Narcisse said Friday that it is important that the community supports everyone involved in the process of supporting students.

“My hope all the time is that a part of this community is that we’re looking at things from a much more positive space to build and not always hard on ourselves. If we don’t hit a certain marker, then it means we haven’t made it,” he said. “It is important that we continue to build and build. This work is more than just a superintendent or a board. It’s about the families and communities in this place, and boy, is it a great place to live in Baton Rouge. I appreciate all the support that I’ve had in doing this job because I could not have done this by myself.”

This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.

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