The Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s political action committee has joined a growing number of organizations in calling for school board member Connie Bernard’s immediate resignation.
In a prepared statement issued today, Randy Cangelosi, who chairs the BRAC-affiliated FuturePAC board of directors, said Bernard’s “recent insensitive comments and actions surrounding the process to rename Lee High School are not isolated incidents of poor judgement,” but rather point to a “pattern of poor judgment that does not befit her position on the board.”
“It’s time to move on and replace Ms. Bernard with a new School Board member politically aligned with District 8 who will move Baton Rouge’s public schools forward in a positive direction,” Cangelosi said, noting there are “many other strong leaders in District 8.”
FuturePAC’s statement comes more than one week after a school board meeting regarding the renaming of Lee High, where Bernard appeared to be shopping online during the public comments portion, prompting local activist Gary Chambers to blast her publicly. The incident was captured in a video that ultimately went viral, attracting national media attention.
Moreover, Bernard is set to appear in court for a July 27 status conference relating to a separate 2018 incident in which she allegedly choked a student at a private party near her home. Amid recent news coverage of the explosive school board meeting, videos of the 2018 incident have resurfaced on social media and triggered further criticism.
FuturePAC—which has never endorsed Bernard—is the latest local voice urging Bernard to resign, preceded by Chambers, four Black school board members and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, among others.
However, the longtime school board member has already announced that she won’t resign, meaning only a recall petition signed by members of her district could remove Bernard from her elected position.
Despite the publicity the situation is getting, Baton Rouge pollster Bernie Pinsonat says Bernard—having served on the school board for a decade—is likely “very familiar” with her own district and could be hearing from the people she represents that any recall petition would be unsuccessful.
“Just because a lot of people want you to resign doesn’t mean anything if you’re comfortable in your district,“ Pinsonat says. “It’s not easy to recall any elected official, so until she feels uncomfortable, she probably won’t do anything except weather the storm.”