Jul 6, 2011 11:51 PM by Maddie Garrett

Elem. Counselor Reinstated Pending Criminal Charges

A Lafayette school counselor, on leave after suspicions of money laundering, was reinstated Wednesday night at the Lafayette Parish School Board meeting. But it didn't happen without opposition.

Charles M. Burke Elementary counselor Chiffonia Jackson has been on unpaid leave since February after being arrested in January on suspicions of money laundering in Iberia Parish. Wednesday night she got her job back, despite parents' outcries to keep her out of Burke Elementary.

In a divided vote, six for, one against and one abstaining, the Lafayette Parish School Board decided to reinstate Jackson.

"She is a tenured teacher and it looks like charges won't be brought against her so by law we have to reinstate her to that position," said School Board Member Mark Cockerham, District 7.

The Iberia Parish District Attorney said that Jackson's case is still under review and no formal charges have been filed. The School Board's Attorney said it looks like all charges against Jackson will be dropped.

"We have taken all the precautions and we have looked at this case very closely and we feel this will be the final outcome," said Cockerham.

But the outcome wasn't what many Burke Elementary parents were hoping for, especially after getting about 300 signatures on a petition to not reinstate her or at least not put her back at Burke.

"Disappointment yes, discouraged yes. We really weren't surprised considering the fact that the School Board meetings are basically ran by the School Board's attorney," said Toni Hollier, a parent of two Burke Elementary students.

She said despite the unfavorable outcome, she doesn't think her pleas fell on deaf ears.

"We are now aware of how things run in Lafayette Parish, and we as the parents of Charles Burke elementary and the community will be very much on top of our toes."

Hollier said the fight isn't over yet. She said she and other parents plan to write letters to the School Board and principal when the school year starts back up, asking that Jackson not have any contact their children at school.



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