September 2020


Livingston Parish Public Schools received the sad news that Denham Springs High School junior Remy Hidalgo died in the early hours of Sept. 18.  He was in the care of Children’s Hospital New Orleans following an incident at football practice earlier this week.

School counselors have been made available at Denham Springs High School, as well as any other school in the district, to assist students and faculty who may need help.

The collective prayers and thoughts of the district go out to family and friends, and to the community who loved this special young man.



Livingston Parish Public Schools transitioned all students in grades Pre-K to 12 to receive face-to-face instruction five days per week on their home campuses this month following Gov. John Bel Edwards’ announcement to move the state into Phase 3 of its reopening plan.  The move was completed over a four-day phase-in period:

  • Grades 6 and 9 returned full time to campus on Sept. 16
  • Grades 7 and 10 returned full time to campus on Sept. 17
  • Grades 8 and 11 returned full time to campus on Sept. 18
  • Grade 12 returned full time to campus on Sept. 21

Students in grades Pre-K to 5 already were given the option to attend classes five days per week at their campuses under the Phase 2 Plan.

Superintendent Joe Murphy noted that many restrictions will remain in place in Phase 3.  In particular, buses are operating at 75% capacity and riders are still required to sanitize their hands upon entering; students are afforded multiple opportunities to wash hands and masks are still be required for students in 3rd grade or above, as well as for employees.  In addition, temperature checks are conducted every day by the end of first hour, and anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above is isolated for parental pick up with next step guidance provided. Students must still eat in their classrooms or designated areas, and lunches are picked up in the cafeterias in static groups.



School officials and local leaders participated in the groundbreaking celebration for the new Southside Campus on Sept. 10.  Pictured from left to right are Livingston Parish School Board Members Brad Harris, Cecil Harris and Jan Benton; Southside Junior High Principal Wes Partin, Southside Elementary Principal Laura Williams, Congressman Garret Graves, Superintendent Joe Murphy, Former State Sen. Dale Erdey, State Sen. J. Rogers Pope, State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr., Livingston School Maintenance Director John Varnado, and School Board Member Bo Graham.

Livingston Parish Public School leaders hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking on Sept. 10 for the new $45 million, state-of-the-art K-8 Southside Campus that will be constructed in Denham Springs to replace two schools that were destroyed during the August 2016 flood.

The new two-story campus will incorporate Southside Elementary (K-5) and Southside Junior High (6-8).  Most of the original campus facilities for the two schools were demolished to make way for new construction. School officials opted not to rebuild Southside Elementary at its original site on Range Avenue, but to relocate it to the site of the 27-acre Southside Junior High site on Highway 16.  The property on Range Avenue is now home to the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center.

“This day marks the end of a long, arduous journey. It’s hard to imagine how much we have overcome since we were faced with only debris and destruction at this site.  But more importantly, this marks the first day a new journey for this community – one of restoration and progress and brighter, better days ahead,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

Murphy credited U.S. Congressman Garret Graves for his leadership and dedicated pursuit to secure funding for the new facility.  In particular, Graves saved the district $17 million by having Congress reduce the NFIP penalty against flooded schools in the parish.

Site preparation for the two-school campus is scheduled to begin later this month, with full construction slated to be complete by the start of the 2022-2023 school year.



Livingston Parish Public Schools is utilizing ATP meters to assess the level of cleanliness of surfaces in the system’s many classrooms and buildings.

ATP meters measure relative light units that identify living organisms on inanimate surfaces. ATP, or Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, is an energy molecule that is present in all living cells. If it is alive or was once alive, it contains ATP – this is true for animal cells, plant cells and bacterial cells.  A measurement of ATP can quickly correlate to a measurement of how clean a surface is – the less ATP, the less contaminants present and the cleaner the surface.

Risk Management Coordinator Wendy Gill said the ATP meter testing is done in 10 common traffic areas on every campus – the front main entry door, the waiting area in the front office, the cafeteria, the library, the school’s isolation room, and five random classrooms.

“The good news is that of the 170 tests conducted at 17 school sites tested to date, only a total of eight sites had areas on their campuses that have to be re-treated.  The rest had no areas that scored below a hospital grade sanitization level,” Gill said, noting that the district is currently testing its remaining campuses.


August 2020


Approximately 90 percent of all students enrolled in Livingston Parish Public Schools have opted to receive instruction through one of the district’s on-campus formats, according to Superintendent Joe Murphy.

Murphy said (as of Aug. 17, 2020) the district has enrolled 26,155 students for the fall semester. Of that total number, only 2,980 students have enrolled in a virtual-only format because of COVID-19 health concerns.

Livingston Parish Schools opened on Aug. 7, according to its Phase 2 plan, with a majority of students receiving instruction through a hybrid format that includes on-campus and virtual instruction.

Currently, 7,893 students have been assigned to Group A to attend classes at their in-district schools on Mondays and Wednesdays and every other Friday, and 7,509 students will be in Group B to attend classes at their in-district schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Friday opposite Group A. The students are receiving virtual instruction on the days they are not scheduled to be on their campuses. The hybrid structure applies to those students in grades 3 to 12.

Students in grades pre-K to 2, as well as students with special needs and those subject to special circumstances, are attending classes at their in-district schools five days per week.  Currently, 7,534 students are enrolled for this traditional campus learning group.



School Technology Director Carlos Williams addresses state leaders about a lack of internet access for homes across Livingston Parish.  The school system is working to improve digital access to students to support virtual instruction efforts.  Also pictured are State Rep. Buddy Mincey, Jr., of Denham Springs; State Rep. Daryl Deshotel of Marksville; Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis and State Senator J. Rogers of Pope of Denham Springs.

School Technology Director Carlos Williams recently presented a long list of issues and concerns that the Livingston Parish Public School System is facing with having adequate digital access to all its students across the parish.

He told state leaders that a large portion of students will be receiving virtual instruction in some way or another this semester, so parish-wide access to the internet is critical to the district’s instructional efforts. Williams made his presentation to State Senator J. Rogers Pope and State Representative Buddy Mincey, Jr., both of Denham Springs, and State Representative Daryl Deshotel of Marksville.

Williams said an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 Livingston Parish students do not have internet access at their homes.  At the same time, many areas of the parish lack in the fiber build out by a service provider, while others also have poor cell coverage.  Williams said state help is needed in developing a long-term plan to work with vendors to install infrastructure that can provide broadband access, to work with cell providers to provide better coverage, and to develop additional community partnerships for better access.



Assess the Need volunteer Amber Cunningham holds a sign to instruct donors how to give to this year’s school supply program by focusing the camera app on their cell phones on the QR codes to directly link to a Venmo or PayPal pay portal.  Also pictured at the donor table is volunteer Garret Childers.

This is the 20th year that Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor, local volunteers and area businesses have once again sponsored the Assess the Need campaign to provide school supplies for needy students.  Supplies for nearly 3,000 students were distributed to schools before the first day of class despite challenges caused by the constraints and economic concerns of COVID.

“Many of our families and local businesses have been directly impacted this year by the Coronavirus, which has created an added struggle to what can already be a challenging time for parents and grandparents to finance their children’s needs to go back to school,” Taylor said.

“By helping struggling families receive the school supplies their children need, they can prioritize their limited resources on food and clothing.”

Taylor noted donors can give to the program without coming into contact with volunteers, who in past years, stood outside the parish’s large Wal-Mart Stores to collection donations.  This year, donors can use the camera apps on their cell phones to connect directly to a pay portal on Venmo or PayPal to give.  All donations are tax-exempt. Links to those pay portals are available at


July 2020

Livingston Schools Announce Reopening Plan for 2020-2021 School Year

Livingston Parish Public School Superintendent Joe Murphy announced July 16 that the district has developed three distinct reopening plans that will allow for optimal student instruction while adhering to state guidelines for each recovery phase as determined by the state.

“Our three-phase plan allows our district to be flexible, yet efficient, in adhering to the state’s guidelines for reopening schools,” Murphy said.  “We believe these plans are the most advantageous for all our students.  It is our intent to maximize face-to-face instruction as much as possible, while remaining within the mandated guidelines we have been given.”

Murphy noted that the state is currently in Phase 2 recovery status.  If that were to remain in effect through Aug. 7, which will be the first day of classes for students, the district would implement its Phase 2 reopening plan.  However, if the governor declares a change in that status, the district can swiftly adjust accordingly, he said.


Phase 1 Plan

A Phase 1 reopening would require all students, pre-K to 12th grade, except for a small group of students who need assistance, to be provided instruction through distance learning.  Under this format, students will receive instruction through Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Microsoft Teams digital platforms, as well as live virtual instruction.

Other requirements would include:

  • Students would be seated one per seat in every other seat when riding a bus.
  • No more than 10 people, including teachers and staff members, will be allowed in a classroom.
  • Students would receive hand sanitizer throughout the day, given multiple opportunities to wash hands and be required to wear masks to the greatest extent possible if they are in 3rd grade or above. All employees at the campus would be required to wear masks.
  • Temperatures will be checked every day by the end of first hour. Anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above will be isolated for parental pick up, and next step guidance will be provided.
  • All students will be offered lunch, and possibly breakfast, as “grab-n-go” meals that will be available for drive-by pick up Monday through Friday.
  • All fall sports, as well as band and music, will not be allowed.

Phase 2 Plan

The Phase 2 reopening plan presents a diversified, hybrid model of instruction, based on grade level and capacity.  Students in pre-K to 2nd grade, as well as students needing special assistance, would follow the traditional model of instruction by attending school at their home campuses five days per week.  Students in 3rd to 12th grade would return to school on an assigned schedule and receive a blend of face-to-face instruction at their home campuses and distance learning from their homes or remote locations.  Students at each campus will be divided evenly into an “A” group or “B” group, with one group attending class on Mondays and Wednesdays and every other Friday, and the other group attending class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Friday.

Other requirements would include:

  • Students will be required to complete assignments online using Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Microsoft Teams digital platforms on those days they are not on campus.
  • Parents will be encouraged to drive their children to and from school as possible. Buses will run with no more than 50% capacity (36 students per bus), and riders will be required to wear masks and to sanitize their hands upon entering.
  • No more than 25 people, including teachers and staff members, will be allowed in a classroom.
  • Students would receive hand sanitizer throughout the day, given multiple opportunities to wash hands and be required to wear masks if they are in 3rd grade or above. All employees on campuses would be required to wear masks.
  • Temperatures will be checked every day by the end of first hour. Anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above will be isolated for parental pick up, and next step guidance will be provided.
  • Students will not dress out for physical education. Locker rooms will be closed.
  • Students will refrain from contact and high-risk sports, as well as band and music.  Some fall sports and extracurricular programs may continue within guidelines.
  • All students will be offered breakfast upon entering their school campuses. Students will eat in their classrooms or designated areas. Students will pick up lunch in the cafeterias in groups no larger than 25 students, and they will eat in designated areas.  Students enrolled in virtual learning, or who are receiving instruction through distance learning that day, will be offered “grab-n-go” meals that will be available for drive-by pick up.  The students must be in the cars to receive the meals.

Phase 3 Plan

A Phase 3 reopening would allow all students, pre-K to 12th grade, to receive face-to-face instruction five days per week on their home campuses.  This traditional model of learning would be possible due to larger-allowed group sizes in classrooms and reduced restrictions on transportation.

Some requirements would still be place:

  • Buses would run with no more than 75% capacity (54 students per bus), and riders would be required to sanitize their hands upon entering.
  • No more than 50 people, including teachers and staff members, would be allowed in a classroom.
  • Students would be given multiple opportunities to wash hands and masks would be recommended for students in 3rd grade or above, as well as for employees.
  • Temperatures will be checked every day by the end of first hour. Anyone with a temperature reading of 100.4 degrees or above will be isolated for parental pick up, and next step guidance will be provided.
  • Contact and high-risk sports, as well as band and music, will be allowed within defined groups.  Wrestling and soccer may practice and conduct intra-squad scrimmages; football may practice only.  Some fall sports may compete, and extracurricular programs may continue within guidelines.
  • All students will be offered breakfast upon entering school campuses.  Students will eat in their classrooms or designated areas.  Students will pick up lunch in the cafeterias in groups no larger than 50 students, and they will eat in designated areas.  Drive-thru meal service will be discontinued.


Livingston Schools Institute Enhanced Cleaning Guidelines

Guarantee Restoration Services CEO Shawn Folks, standing center, oversees the work of his employees as they clean and disinfect a sports training room in the Denham Springs High School gymnasium. GRS has been hired to clean all school campuses and the district’s bus fleet during the month of July to prepare for the reopening of school in August. GRS was the school system’s lead contractor for the clean up following the 2016 flood.

Superintendent Joe Murphy emphasized that the number one priority of the district is the safety, health and well-being of students, employees, and local communities during this time of planning for reopening school.

“We have made every effort to ensure Livingston Schools will offer quality instruction and educational opportunities for all our students, no matter their individual circumstance,” Murphy said.  “At the same time, we are following guidelines, working to create cleaner, safer environments and supporting healthier choices and habits to ensure our schools remain safe for everyone.”

He noted that district guidelines enforce enhanced cleaning efforts and tight restrictions on person-to-person interactions.  Those guidelines are posted on the Livingston Parish School website at

The district has employed Guarantee Restoration Services to thoroughly clean all parish campuses and buses this summer.  GRS uses Bioesque botanical disinfectant that minimizes harmful chemicals being introduced into the school buildings.  The company services clients in Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Gulf Coast region.  GRS was the lead contractor hired to clean and disinfect campuses in Livingston Parish after the flood of August 2016.

Once schools reopen, classrooms and buses will be cleaned and disinfected daily with the use of electrostatic sprayers.




June 2020


Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy announced the district has been awarded more than $57 million in federal funds to rebuild those school campuses that were substantially damaged during the 2016 flood.

He said the district will receive $51.8 million from FEMA and another $5.4 million from HUD, through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, to build enlarged and much-improved campuses for Denham Springs Elementary, Southside Elementary and Southside Junior High.

“I want to thank U.S. Congressman Garret Graves and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy for their leadership and assistance with securing this funding for our system.  Much credit goes to them for their efforts to reduce the National Flood Insurance Program penalty against our schools. That action alone saved our district $17 million,” Murphy said.

Murphy noted that FEMA’s standing policy is to assess a $500,000 penalty on every building that was not insured at the time of the flood.  Most school campuses in the parish have multiple buildings on site.  Such a formula would have escalated the district’s overall penalty to $21 million.  However, the Louisiana congressional delegation successfully pushed for FEMA to only assess the $500,000 penalty against each campus, reducing the overall cost to $4 million.

Murphy also noted that the district will be able to replace the flooded campuses with improved facilities, and not simply “build back” what was once there, thanks to the Public Assistance Alternative Procedure (PAAP) Program for Permanent Work, which was approved with the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013.



Southside Junior High and Southside Elementary Campus

Denham Springs Elementary


Superintendent Joe Murphy said the Denham Springs Elementary campus is currently in Phase I of construction, with contractors doing groundwork and sitework drainage.  At the same time, he said the district has received construction bids for the new Southside campus, and the school board is expected to accept a final bid by the middle of July.

“While this has been a long arduous journey for our system, it has proven to be most productive.  Our newly rebuilt schools will provide better learning environments for our students, and they will be built at a larger capacity to manage growing enrollments in the Denham Springs area,” he said.

Murphy said the old Denham Springs Elementary campus occupied approximately 58,500 square feet.  The new two-story structure will measure 80,700 square feet, and it will be equipped with modern technology for greater interactive learning, more efficient lighting and utilities, and house common areas that are better designed for student engagement.

The new Southside campus will house both the elementary and junior high schools.  The combined space of the two previously existing campuses was 148,000 square feet.  The new combined campus will occupy more than 184,000 square feet.  The new facilities will be located at the site of the old Southside Junior High School.  The vacated property previously occupied by Southside Elementary is now home to the district’s STEM & Robotics Center.

“These campuses will be larger, fully code compliant, more efficient and better equipped for learning inside and outside the classroom.  These facilities are designed with continuous learning as a focus,” Murphy said.  “We are excited about what these facilities will mean for our system and the Denham Springs community, and we are most grateful that the federal funding will allow us to cover most of the cost.”



The parish’s nine high schools are holding graduation ceremonies to honor those students on their campus who are part of the Class of 2020. The graduation schedules are as follows:

High School Curriculum Director Kelly Jones said district officials made plans, including site selections, based on capacity of available venues in light of COVID-19 social distancing constraints.  The Southeastern Louisiana University Center, which was scheduled to host six of the parish’s nine ceremonies, was not available to any high schools, he said.

Jones noted that six of the schools are utilizing the Walker High Gymnasium because it has a seating capacity of 2,200 persons, which limited to a 50-percent capacity, can accommodate 1,100 persons.  The gym is also equipped with live video broadcasting equipment that allows each ceremony to be live-streamed on Walker High’s Facebook page, as well as broadcast in its entirety on local cable stations – Channel 117 on Cox Cable and Channel 130 on EATEL Cable systems.



Guarantee Restoration Services, a restoration company serving Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf Coast, has been selected by school officials to provide COVID-19 cleaning services across over 40 school buildings.  The detailed cleaning efforts are scheduled to begin July 6 and cover all parish campuses.

The cleaning company announced that is will use Bioesque botanical disinfectants to minimize harmful chemicals being introduced into the school buildings, while ensuring a safe environment for teachers, staff and students to return to in the fall.  The company will also disinfect the district’s bus fleet.

Guarantee Restoration Services is one of the cleaning companies hired by Livingston Schools in 2016 to assist with cleansing and restoring campuses damaged by flooding.

May 2020


Livingston Parish Schools is offering its students a Summer Enrichment Program from May 26 to June 17 to better prepare them for the next level of math and English/language arts instruction they will receive in the upcoming school year.

This 17-day program, which is open to students currently in Kindergarten through 8th grade, will also serve as a pilot effort for the district to better prepare for continuous remote learning that may be necessary in the coming school year.

Supervisor of Instruction Kelly LaBauve said the program will utilize virtual instruction that will be administered for an hour and 30 minutes each weekday, per subject. Students can sign up for instruction in both math and English/language arts.  She said approximately 2,600 students qualify for the program. The district has set specific criteria for participation and principals have begun reaching out to eligible students.

“This new enrichment program is designed to help close learning gaps that may exist and support our goal of having all students ready to learn at the beginning of the next school year,” LaBauve said.



Livingston Parish Schools has been awarded a $4.4 million federal grant under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act), to be invested in three priority areas:

(1) to continuously maintain clean and disinfected campuses;

(2) to increase the number of computers and laptops available to students, bringing the district to a “better than” one-to-one student-to-computer ratio; and

(3) to improve student access to Internet and WiFi services through investments in on-campus and off-campus access points and hotspots, thereby enhancing the reach and clarity of the district’s continuous distance learning efforts.

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the district hopes to make all technology and device purchases this summer and have them in place this fall.



The district’s 2020 Student of the Year winners are Bryce Felps, a senior at Maurepas High School; Reese Kennedy, an 8th grader at Denham Springs Junior High; and Evelynn Artieta, a 5th grader at South Walker Elementary.  All three winners competed among nominees throughout they parish.  As the parish winners, they went on to compete in the state’s regional competition, with Kennedy advancing to be a state finalist in the middle school division.

All those Livingston Parish students who were named 2020 Student of the Year winners at their respective schools include:

12th Grade — Grace Purvis, Albany High; Sophie Faircloth, Denham Springs High; Kayleigh Smith, Doyle High; Gabrielle Blanchard, French Settlement High; Carter Alphonso, Holden High; Emily Rushing, Live Oak High; Bryce Felps, Maurepas; Brielle Lee, Springfield High; and Abby Selser, Walker High.

8th Grade — Emma Rogers, Albany Middle; Reese Kennedy, Denham Springs Junior High; Isabella Ferguson, Doyle Junior High; Berkleigh Cormier, French Settlement High; Emma Roshto, Frost; Victoria Hill, Holden Junior High; Casey Winter, Juban Parc Junior High; Brianna Burns, Live Oak Junior High; Brooklyn Jones, Maurepas; Valerie Gautreaux, North Corbin Junior High; Drew Partin, Southside Junior High; Melanie Fletcher, Springfield Middle; and Madison Eymard, Westside Junior High.

5th Grade – Paul Hoyt, Albany Middle; Natalie Robertson, Denham Springs Elementary; Allie Savant, Doyle Elementary; Lily LaBauve, Eastside Elementary; Madison Hill, French Settlement Elementary; Ryan Gelpi, Freshwater Elementary; Kahne Lawless, Frost; Owen Waguespack, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Presley McKinney, Holden Elementary; Adina Bantea, Juban Parc Elementary; Evelynn Artieta, Levi Milton Elementary; Emmarie Peak, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Hudson Hunter, Live Oak Middle; Malloy Miles, Maurepas; Kenley Arledge, North Corbin Elementary; AliBeth Tanner, Northside Elementary; Sadie Foster, Seventh Ward Elementary; Isabelle Olinde, South Fork Elementary; Meredith Lee, South Walker Elementary; Hanna Medero, Southside Elementary; Riley Jones, Springfield Middle; and Micah Thibodeaux, Walker Elementary.



Michelle Booth, Elementary Teacher of the Year

Melissa Belgard, Middle School Teacher of the Year

Eric Fasbender, High School Teacher of the Year







Julie Dugas, Elementary Principal of the Year

Bryan Wax, Middle School Principal of the Year

Kris Rountree, High School Principal of the Year









The 2020 Teacher of the Year and 2020 Principal of the Year winners for Livingston Parish Public Schools respectively include: Elementary Teacher of the Year Michelle Booth, Juban Parc Elementary; Middle School Teacher of the Year Melissa Belgard, Denham Springs Junior High; and High School Teacher of the Year Eric Fasbender, Live Oak High School; and Elementary Principal of the Year Julie Dugas, Freshwater Elementary; Middle School Principal of the Year Bryan Wax, Denham Springs Junior High; and High School Principal of the Year Kris Rountree, Holden High School.  All parish winners competed in the state’s regional competition, with Wax advancing as a state finalist for Louisiana’s Middle School Principal of the Year.

The top three teachers were selected from nominees from schools across the parish.  Those teachers earning Teacher of the Year honors at their respective schools include:

High Schools – John Legoria, Albany High; Melissa McCaa, Denham Springs Freshman High; Stacey Thomasson, Doyle High; Jennifer Vulgamore, Holden High; Eric Fasbender, Live Oak High; Jo Lynn Hegwood, Walker Freshman; and Bridget Albright, Walker High.

Middle Schools — James Pechon, Albany Middle; Melissa Belgard, Denham Springs Junior High; Jennifer Kemp, Holden Middle; Rebeka Fairburn, Juban Parc Junior High; Robyn Lee, Live Oak Junior High; Janet DeLee, Live Oak Middle; Melissa Anderson, Maurepas; Robin Skinner, North Corbin Junior High; Meghann Ringo, Southside Junior High; Erica Ablak, Springfield Middle; and Alicia Guidry, Westside Junior High.

Elementary Schools – Cheryl Criswell, Albany Lower Elementary; Michelle K. Stewart, Albany Upper Elementary; Janine Archer, Denham Springs Elementary; Mallory Craig, Doyle Elementary; Pam Davis, Eastside Elementary; Anthony Elliot, French Settlement Elementary;  Shannon Seal, Freshwater Elementary; Lindsey Lee, Gray’s Creek Elementary; Shawn Wascom, Holden Elementary; Michelle Booth, Juban Parc Elementary; Emily Artieta, Levi Milton Elementary; Chantel Waguespack, Lewis Vincent Elementary; Tammy Harvin, Live Oak Elementary; Jessica Janis, Maurepas; Jhann Ratliff, North Corbin Elementary; Sealy Pettavino, North Live Oak Elementary; Jeanette Hogan, Northside Elementary; Buffie Harrell, Seventh Ward Elementary; Elizabeth Abbott, South Fork Elementary; Angie Elkins, South Live Oak Elementary; Kayleigh Wells, Springfield Elementary; Angelle Maher, Southside Elementary; and Amber Guillot, Walker Elementary.



April 2020


Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy announced that all 12-month employees will return to work at their assigned campuses and the central office on May 4 in an effort to begin a phased-in work recovery from the COVID-19 closures that have been in effect since the governor’s call for a statewide stay-at-home order on March 22.

Murphy said those returning 12-month employees will have an amended work schedule, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday-Thursday.  And while those employees will be on their campuses and administrative sites, those facilities will remain closed to the public.

“Given the critical juncture we are now facing, I believe it’s important that we reinstate our 12-month employees to begin moving forward with finalizing and implementing plans for this summer and into the fall to be adequately prepared for whatever challenges remain ahead,” Murphy said.



The 2019-2020 school year will end on its regularly scheduled day of May 22, with teachers and school leaders continuing to deliver meaningful educational instruction through a blended model of distance learning to all students through that time.  Final report cards for grade levels will be sent out on June 2.

Graduation ceremonies and other related activities have been postponed, at a minimum, until the month of June and possibly later.

The district will offer credit recovery opportunities through summer education, utilizing virtual learning for the various grade levels.  In some isolated cases, a limited number of students may receive in-person instruction at a campus location, pending state allowances. Superintendent Joe Murphy said the district plans to hold possibly one or two summer sessions for high school credit recovery in grades 9-11, noting that the format may include one session in June and a second session in July, or a single larger session that begins in mid-summer.

The 2020-2021 school year is still scheduled to start as originally planned on Aug. 7, 2020.  However, Murphy said that timeline may be revisited if restrictions do not allow opening the schools at that time.



The district will begin taking registrations for Pre-K and Kindergarten students on June 1.

Pre-K Registration (Phase 1) will be held from June 1-5, with determination letters for Phase 1 applicants being mailed June 15.  Applications to fill any available seats from Phase 1 will be accepted beginning June 22.  Pending the state’s guidelines, applications can be completed at the child’s home-based school campus or can be emailed directly to the school. Information regarding specific dates, times and procedures for each school will be posted on the LPPS Pre-K/Early Childhood webpage and on each school’s webpage after May 4.  Click here or call 225-686-4302 or 225-68684265 for more information.

Kindergarten Registration will begin June 1. Pending the state’s guidelines, parents may register their child for Kindergarten on the campus of their home-based school or by emailing the school directly.  Information regarding specific dates, times and procedures will be posted on the LPPS webpage after May 4.


Laura Foy, school librarian at Denham Springs Junior High School, was named the winner of the Louisiana Library Association’s 2020 James O. Modisette for middle schools. The award recognizes excellence in school library programs. The award were first established in 1944.


March 2020


Livingston Parish Public Schools is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Baylor University to provide food and nutrition to our students during this time that schools are closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The program is called Meals-to-You, and it allows for meals to be delivered to the doorsteps of students who qualify for the program.

To sign up, parents must fill out an online sign-up form and submit it as soon as possible.  The form can be accessed at  The shelf-stable meals will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information, go to the website.  Information is also available in Spanish.



Livingston Parish School Supervisor of Child Nutrition Sommer Purvis drops a bag of pre-packaged meals into a box that went out to school volunteers for distribution across the parish. School employees and volunteers delivered 6,000 pre-packaged meals to needy families on March 25.

To provide food to the district’s students, food service officials recently procured pre-packaged food items that school employees and volunteers packaged into meals and distributed to families across the parish.

They packaged meal bags over a two-day period – each bag contained provisions for five lunches and two breakfasts.  A total of 6,000 meals were packaged.  Those bags were picked up by school personnel, who in turn distributed the bags to families in their school communities.

“This opportunity provided us with a safe, efficient way to get food to our people, so we felt confident in moving forward with this plan,” said Supervisor of Child Nutrition Sommer Purvis.

Superintendent Joe Murphy added, “We know this is a critical service for so many of our families.  That’s why our food service staff and central office leadership are working feverishly to find ways to feed our children.”



Livingston School officials went into quick action after Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a proclamation to close all public schools in the state from March 16 to April 13 to implement a blended model of remote learning for each school during this closure period.

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the blended model of learning includes digital instructional resources, as well as printed take-home resources, to ensure that all students receive a quality level of engaged learning.  He said each school implemented a plan of action that is best suited for its students and faculty.

Murphy praised teachers across the district for finding new and interesting ways to engage with their students and to communicate with them.

He noted that their efforts have been recognized by the statewide Dream Teachers organization, and that Livingston Parish will be featured in an upcoming video that highlights efforts of educators to make a difference in the lives of their students during the COVID-19 pandemic closure and “stay-at-home” time.  The video is expected to be released in April.

Superintendent Joe Murphy is interviewed by David St. Romain for the special Dream Teachers video.

Those interviewed for the Dream Teachers video included, from left, South Fork Elementary Teacher Eileen Jarman, Live Oak High School History Teacher Gary Mitchell, Denham Springs Junior High School Science Teacher Elliot Coats, and Livingston Parish Middle School Student of the Year Reese Kennedy, an 8th grader from Denham Springs Junior High.



“Our administration has responded swiftly to coordinate a comprehensive plan of action that protects the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, and that delivers quality instruction and much-needed services to our students during this proclamation period.

I am confident that the determination and resolve of the people of Livingston Parish will enable us to successfully manage and overcome this challenge just as those qualities proved solid in the aftermath of the 2016 flood.  In many ways, our community is no stranger to “unchartered” situations – we know we have the mettle to stand strong in difficult times!

As we work together, supporting one another, we will overcome whatever circumstances confront us. Livingston Parish has a strong track record of turning challenges into opportunities. Now, more than ever, let’s be Livingston M.A.D.E. — Making A Difference EveryDay!”

– Superintendent Joe Murphy

February 2020


Cecil Harris, District 5 School Board Member

The Livingston Parish School Board recently appointed Denham Springs resident Cecil Harris to serve as the District 5 member, filling the vacancy left by former member Buddy Mincey, Jr., who resigned earlier this year to take on his newly elected position of State Representative.

Harris, who is a graduate and Athletic Hall of Fame member of Denham Springs High School, holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Southeastern Louisiana University. He also has a minor in special education. Harris taught and coached for three years in Livingston Parish before taking a supervisor position with the Louisiana Department of Education in the Health and Physical Education division. He later moved to the private sector, working as regional vice president for an educational publishing company for several years before opening his own company, Pinnacle Education.

Harris will hold the appointed seat until voters can elect a new board member this fall. Harris said he plans to run for the elected position at that time.



Livingston Parish Public Schools will host a free 2020 STEAM Expo on Saturday, March 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Denham Springs High School STEM and Robotics Center at 1129 South Range Avenue to give students of all ages, parents and community leaders on opportunity to experience and access educational programs in science, technology engineering, art and math.

The expo will provide engaging displays and activities aimed at increasing awareness and interest in STEAM education and career opportunities, such as robotics, 3D printing, photography and video, and performing arts.  The STEAM Express will be on site, as well as an ambulance simulator, which is used in instruction at the Literacy and Technology Center to prepare students pursuing certification as a first responder.

Demonstrations will rotate on a 30-minute cycle and tours of the center will be provided throughout the day. For more information, send an email to the STEAM Expo coordinator.


Students from across the parish who are enrolled in the Livingston Parish Talented Arts Program will present two Disney productions at the Suma Hall Conference Center, located at the Satsuma Exit (Exit 19) of Interstate 12, over the next three weeks.

They will perform Disney’s “The Little Mermaid, Jr.” on two nights — Feb. 20-21, with the performances beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and adults, and they can be purchased at the door.

Students will also present three performances of Disney’s “Frozen, Jr.” March 5-7.  Evening performances will be held March 5 and 6, beginning at 7 p.m. each night, and a special 11 a.m. brunch performance will be held March 7.  The cost of general admission for the evening performances is $10, while the cost of admission to the March 7 brunch performance is $15.  Click here to purchase tickets.



The Livingston Parish Literacy & Technology Center will host its 6th Annual Car Show Fundraiser on Saturday, March 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The event, which will be held at 9261 Florida Boulevard in Walker, will include a bounce house, green screen photobooth, 50/50 raffle, music, door prizes, and jambalaya lunch plates.  Registration for car entries is $20 and will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.




Superintendent Joe Murphy presents district administrators with his vision for school leaders to return to teaching for one hour in March as a “hands-on” way to be more engaged in the day-to-day activities across the district.

Ask any educator why they do their job, and they will tell you it’s for the thrill of helping children learn.  District administrators will have an opportunity to “return to their first love,” by going back into the classroom for a day, thanks to a special effort implemented by Superintendent Joe Murphy.

Murphy recently asked all district administrative personnel who hold teaching certificates to sign up to teach a class next month, either on March 6 or March 13.

“It’s always good to remind ourselves why we do what we do; and stepping back in the classroom is one powerful way to do that,” Murphy said.  “It’s a chance to return to our first love, reacquaint ourselves with our students, and see first-hand what our teachers are facing each day.  It’s my hope this exercise will create greater engagement for our leadership and stir excitement on our campuses.”


January 2020


The Livingston Parish School Board elected new leaders at its Jan. 9 meeting.  David “Bo” Graham of Walker was named the new president, and Jan Benton of Denham Springs was voted vice president. The two were unanimously elected to their positions.

Graham replaces outgoing School Board President Buddy Mincey, Jr., who resigned his seat to move into his newly elected position of State Representative for District 71.  Mincey was sworn in as State Representative on Jan. 13, prior to the governor’s inauguration ceremonies that same day.

The board is expected to take nominations to fill Mincey’s seat at its Jan. 23 meeting until a special election can be held in November.

Outgoing Livingston Parish School Board President Buddy Mincey, Jr., right, hands the gavel to newly elected President David “Bo” Graham following the board’s vote on Jan. 9, 2020.  Mincey resigned his seat to move to his newly elected position of State Representative for District 71.

Livingston Parish School Board Vice President Jan Benton












Speaker and author Thomas Murray, who is director of innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C., spoke to parish educators on Jan. 7 as part of a full day of professional learning presentations, walk-throughs and workshops across the parish.

Murray presided over two sessions at the Walker High School gym for approximately 1,100 certified schoolteachers at each session. He presented information from his new book, “Personal & Authentic: Designing Learning Experiences that Impact a Lifetime,” which was released in October 2019.

Parish schools also showcased their campuses with “gallery walk” presentations and several schools hosted EdCamps, which were smaller education workshops.

“We wanted to pause just a moment during this ‘half-way’ point in our schoolyear, before returning to the classroom for the spring semester, to remind our employees why we do what we do,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said. “It’s about the kids, and we can’t ever lose that focus.  We wanted to remind our employees in a powerful and meaningful way that it’s our job to foster personal and authentic learning experiences for all our students – every day.”

Thomas Murray presented two sessions to Livingston Parish educators and staff on how to design learning experiences that are personal and authentic.

Gray’s Creek Elementary Para-professional Julianne Sadler and Assistant Principal Michelle Denton showcase robotic projects they do with their students as part of their STEM curriculum. The school’s kiosk was one of many in the “gallery walk” at the district’s professional learning day.


Freshwater Elementary has been named the most improved school in the state and among the top 2 percent of all elementary and middle schools across Louisiana, according to the most recent accountability report by the Louisiana Department of Education.

According to the state report, only nine schools in Louisiana improved by 10 percentage points or more.  Freshwater Elementary was the most improved – increasing its overall mastery rate from 43 percent to 60 percent – a 17 percent jump.  Out of 1,267 elementary and middle schools (non-magnets) statewide, Freshwater came in at number 27. Freshwater Elementary’s overall School Performance Score also grew from 83.5 in 2018 to 95.7 in 2019 – a 12.2-point improvement.  One of the most impressive score indicators was the school’s progress index, which measures the number of individual students who meet their growth target level – that number grew from 100.7 points in 2018 to 115 points in 2019, reflecting a 14.3 jump that easily earned Freshwater Elementary an “A” status rating as a Top Gains Honoree.

“When they started announcing the numbers, I couldn’t believe it.  I knew our students and teachers had given their best, but the numbers were amazing,” Principal Julie Dugas said.  “Our school was at the top in our district and among the state’s very best.  Most of our teachers recorded the top scores overall in their grade and subject areas.”

Dugas noted that some teachers grew their individual sections by double digits and a few by more than 20 points.

Freshwater Elementary third-grade teacher Sarah Hodges, left, reviews the completed projects of her students Preslee Zimmerle and Jimmy Burton, as Principal Julie Dugas asks them questions about their work.



School officials honored this year’s winners of the Council for Exceptional Children’s 2019 Parent Advocate Award, Tessa Walters, and 2019 “Yes I Can” Award of Self-Advocacy, Camilla Rios.  Walters is a paraprofessional at Seventh Ward Elementary, where 9-year-old Rios attends school.  Pictured, left to right, are: (back row) Freshwater Elementary Principal Julie Dugas, Seventh Ward Elementary Principal Laura Dunlap, Livingston Parish Special Education Department Director Eric Penalber, Livingston Parish Superintendent Joe Murphy, Seventh Ward Elementary SRO Burley McCarter, Seventh Ward Elementary Assistant Principal Bridget Castille, Freshwater Elementary Assistant Principal Amy Cheney, (front row) Walters, Rios and Freshwater Elementary Adapted Physical Education Teacher Sarah Lambert.

Seventh Ward Elementary Student Camilla “Cami” Rios and Paraprofessional Tessa Walters have both received awards from the Council for Exception Children for their outstanding efforts.

Rios is a recipient of the Council for Exceptional Children’s 2019 “Yes I Can” award in the self-advocacy category, which honors children with exceptionalities who have demonstrated determination and achievement.  Rios suffered from a severe meningitis infection at the age of 2, causing her to have both legs amputated above the knees, her left arm amputated below the elbow, and damage to her right upper extremity, including a deviation in her hand and damage to her fingers that has severely limited her range of motion.  Despite her physical limitations, she is one of her school’s most independent – and most popular – students.

Walters is a winner of the same organization’s 2019 Parent Advocate Award, which recognizes parents who promote and provide for the education and enhancement of individuals with exceptionalities in order to promote and support their full participation in the community. Walters also serves as a spokesperson for disabled children and their families, advocating for greater services and more funding.  She has spoken to the Louisiana House Appropriation Committee, advocating for funding of a Pediatric Day Health Center in the Baton Rouge area, and she has been the subject of numerous news articles.  Walters works with her daughter, Piper, and with Cami Rios, at Seventh Ward Elementary.

December 2019


The Louisiana Department of Education’s most recent accountability report showed Livingston Parish continues to improve its cohort graduation rate, which measures the number of students who graduate on time, and its strength of diploma measurement, which accounts for credentials added to the diplomas awarded to students.

Livingston Parish’s graduation rate is currently 87.4 percent – the highest ever for the district.  The number of students who successfully matriculate through high school in four years has improved nearly 11 points from 76.2 percent in 2013.

At the same time, the district’s strength of diploma score jumped to 108.5 points, up from 90.5 points in 2013.  The latest score represents an 18-point improvement is just six years.  Students can strengthen their diplomas by attaining college credit and career certifications that advance their post-secondary education, training and employment desirability, allowing them to enter the workforce or advanced education fields more rapidly and at higher skill levels.

“We continue to identify ways to make our high schools more relevant and responsive to the expectations of today’s workforce as it relates to preparation at higher education institutions, advanced technical and industrial schools, and on-the-job entry positions,” Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis said.




Robinson Brothers Ford presented the Livingston Parish Literacy & Technology Center with a 2014 Ford Focus in recognition for being one of the Top 5 programs in the nation to utilize the Ford Learning Management System.  Pictured with the car, and some of the parish’s automotive program students, from left to right, are Ford Motor Company Field Service Engineer Paul Evans, Robinson Brothers Ford Service Director Bill Reitenour, AST Instructor Mike Deville, Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill, and LPLTC Director Kim Albin.

Robinson Brothers Ford donated a 2014 Ford Focus to the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center (LPLTC) to further enhance the center’s Automotive Service Technician program, after the program was recognized as one of the best in the nation.

The car is valued at approximately $7,500, and it will give added hands-on practice to the program’s students to prepare them for the Automotive Career Exploration exam that can earn them an entry-level position in the automotive service industry.

LPLTC Director Kim Albin said the center’s Automotive Service Technician program received the donation from Robinson Brothers because Livingston Parish high school students have performed among the nation’s best on the Ford Learning Management System training modules.  Ford Motor Company ranked the Livingston Parish program among the nation’s Top 5 school programs.



Livingston Parish Public Schools is offering an array of Career & Technical Education night classes to high school students during the spring semester.  The courses are open to juniors and seniors, and they include scaffolding, NCCER Carpentry I, NCCER Carpentry II, NCCER Electrical I, NCCER Welding II, Drones, Operation Spark I, and Baking & Pastry.

The courses allow students the opportunity to earn Carnegie credits and industry-based certifications, which can help them advance in their careers or educational options.  A $300 stipend will be paid to those students who attain certification in most courses, excluding the baking and pastry class.  Students enrolled in the baking and pastry culinary class can receive dual enrollment credit through the Northshore Technical Community College.  Students completing the scaffolding training course may be eligible for immediate employment with Apache Industrial Services.

For more information, contact Brandi Desselle at 225-686-7044 or



Four Livingston Parish elementary schools – Eastside Elementary, Freshwater Elementary, Northside Elementary, and Seventh Ward Elementary – have earned a spot on the state’s “Honor Roll” as a result of high performances during the 2018-2019 school year in their early childhood programs, according to a report released by the Louisiana Department of Education.

This is the second year in a row for the early childhood classes at Eastside Elementary and Northside Elementary to receive this honor.  According to the released scores, Northside Elementary earned the third-highest score in the state among all Pre-K sites evaluated.

These schools were recognized in the “Excellence” category, which is the state’s highest possible rating on the school’s annual performance evaluation.  Only 113 schools statewide earned this top rating, according to the state report.

Representing Seventh Ward Elementary, left to right, are paraprofessional Mandi Brown, teacher Tammi Fielding, and paraprofessional Samantha Soileau.

Representing Eastside Elementary, left to right, are paraprofessional Donna Foster, teacher Dana Baier, and paraprofessional Angela Brand


Representing Freshwater Elementary, left to right, are paraprofessional Monica Nelson, teacher Meghan Yerby, and paraprofessional Jennifer Stanley.

Representing Northside Elementary, left to right, are teachers Kellie Bridgers and Elizabeth Jordan.