A Plan to Move Felons from Louisiana Prisons to Teaching School is Real
Let's start with a bit of mystery. What exactly was Shreveport City Councilman John Nickelson talking about in this cryptic, Thursday afternoon Facebook post?
Lots of crazy ideas have crossed my desk since I was elected, but this one takes the cake. Thankfully Sheriff Steve Prator and our local school board shot the idea down. You can’t make this stuff up.
And what's this "crazy" idea Nickelson is referring to? Well, we did leave one sentence out of Nickelson's FB message. Ready for crazy?
Apparently some out of town group wants to transition convicted felons directly from prison to high risk elementary schools as teachers.
Caddo Sheriff Prator Finds Out About the Plan
And here's the rest of the info in an open email from Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator, who uncovered the plan, to Parish School Board Members:
Honorable School Board Members,
I received the attached email and program details from the State of Louisiana. In a nutshell, the Department of Corrections (DOC) has asked me to identify inmates for an ongoing program entitled “Mister Coffee Bean”. This program will educate a select number of currently incarcerated felony inmates. These inmates, upon graduation, will then be certified and placed into elementary schools as certified teachers. The program has already begun.
I have strong concerns about this program and the hiring of convicted felons to teach our children. I will NOT be identifying any felons to take part in this program. Please call if you have any questions.
So, Where Did This All Originate?
So, where did this idea of just-released inmates teaching in Louisiana schools originate? The email that the Sheriff came across came from Angela Whittaker, Executive Management Advisor at the state's Department of Corrections on behalf of Jimmy LeBlanc, Secretary of Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections to wardens at various state prison facilities.
Here's the opening paragraph:
In association with The Be A Coffee Bean Foundation, the Louisiana Department of Corrections will host a program intended to positively impact Louisiana’s African-American, elementary age at-risk populations. The vision of this program is to search our state prison population to identify five African-American men, who have low level criminal offenses, the aptitude to test into college, and the desire to teach and lead children as both an educator and a positive, male role model.
Caddo Sheriff and School Board Say, 'No Way!'
So, this The Be a Coffee Bean Idea is dead in the water, in Caddo Parish, at least. But how many parishes across the state won't be so fortunate? And what similar - or crazier - ideas will they come up with next?