Filed Under:  Education, Local, News

St. Aug board gets mixed messages from Josephites

29th June 2011   ·   1 Comment

St. Augustine High School’s Board of Directors reported last week that it has received a copy of the news release issued June 21 by the newly elected administration of St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart in Baltimore (a/k/a The Josephites) as the Board of Trustees of St. Augustine High School, affirming the decision of the previous administration in July 2010 to end the practice of corporal punishment at St. Augustine High School, and the decision in June 2011 to transfer the school’s president, Fr. John Raphael SSJ to Baltimore.

A dispute between the Archdio­cese of New Orleans and St. Aug administrators, teachers, alumni, parents, students and supporters has led to the transfer of Fr. Raphael and a series of rallies and protests in support of Raphael and the school’s use of corporal punishment.

Just days before it held new elections, the Josephite order amended its by-laws to grant itself the power to transfer Raphael after the school’s embattled president and board of directors defiantly de­clared that the board had sole power to terminate Raphael’s contract and that he would remain at the school at least until next summer. St. Aug’s Board of Directors said Tuesday that it would convene a meeting to deliberate upon the impact of this latest action and what it means.

St. Aug board chairman Troy Henry tried unsuccessfully to meet with the Josephites’ new superior general, the Rev. William Norvel after he was elected on June 14.

Henry released a statement Tuesday that read: “Obviously we are disappointed since it seems at first glance to run contrary to the sentiments expressed in a formal resolution passed last week during the Josephite General Conference 2011 — and cited within today’s news release — as follows:

‘The General Conference of 2011 recommends that the Superior General and his Council, as the Board of Trustees of St. Augustine High School, initiate as soon as possible dialogue with the Board of Directors of St. Augustine School and the Principal, Mr. Don Boucree. Together the parties to the dialog can explore ways to facilitate communication and collaboration for the continued future growth and development of St. Augustine High School.’

“Unfortunately, there was no attempt to initiate such a dialog before today’s news release was issued,” Henry continued. “It was our first and only communication from the new administration of the Josephites despite having sent multiple messages to the new Superior General congratulating him on his election and requesting a chance to meet with him at his earliest convenience to discuss the ongoing issues surrounding governance of St. Augustine now and moving forward.”

Henry said the board would issue no further comments until it meets privately to discuss the latest decision by the Josephites to support the previous administration’s decision to end corporal punishment at St. Augustine High School.

Before last week’s press release from the Josephites, St. Aug supporters had expressed hope that those who support the school’s tradition of paddling students as a form of discipline could find common ground with the newly elected superior general, the Rev. William Norvel.

Father Norvel, who was ordained at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans and taught at St. Augustine High School during the 1965-66 school year. Norvel also served as director of a New Orleans training center from 1968 to 1970, according to the local daily paper.

Norvel currently serves as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Washington, D.C.

“I am pretty upset that we didn’t even get a conversation,” New Orleans Civil Court Judge Kern Reese, a St. Aug alum, told FOX 8 News.

There is still no word on what will become of the lawsuit filed in early June on behalf of alumni who say a report by Texas-based consultant Monica Applewhite alleging paddling abuse by St. Aug has damaged the school’s reputation.

“We looked at it, we don’t think it happened, and we’re calling for the truth which still hasn’t been forthcoming,” Reese said.

On June 16, New Orleans City Council members Arnie Fielkow, Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Jon Johnson filed a resolution in support of ousted St. Aug president Father John Raphael, the school’s board of directors and St. Aug supporters who want to restore the use of corporal punishment at the 7th Ward school.

“It is the sense of the council that St. Augustine’s continued self-governance is in the best interest of the St. Augustine community, including the Josephite order,” the resolution reads.

This article originally published in the June 27, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (1)

  1. Jalen says:

    This is eacxtly what I was looking for. Thanks for writing!

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