The naming of a new high school for Lafayette Parish has become controversial in the last few days, and Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter spoke to Rob and Bernie on Acadiana Morning News to explain why he feels the naming process has been unfair to the Youngsville community and how it lacks transparency.

Ritter explained that the community of Youngsville and its officials have been excited about the new school

Our community is 100% in support of naming the school Youngsville High School. Myself, my colleagues, and our residents have shown a great deal of leadership prior to the new superintendent and school board being elected. We’ve known that we needed a new high school for some time. We were excited to hear that the new superintendent and school board decided to locate the school on property in Youngsville. Most important for us is to take care of our school and make sure our growth in Youngsville is sustainable.

The issue for Ritter has been how the naming committee has operated thus far

A committee was put together for the name of the school. I have a lot of concern about the way that this committee is operating. They met for one hour Monday night, took 17 names, and dwindled them down to 4 within an hour. It was on AOC in a public format and was very transparent. I was disappointed that the planning director for the school system, Sandra Billeaudeau, in my mind, was biased and led the discussion. It was obvious she had an agenda the entire time. Once the names were down to 4, the meeting was adjourned and directions were to email top votes to Sandra.

Ritter's issue with the process was what he considers a 'secret vote' by email and how the process proceeded after the Monday meeting ended

Tuesday morning, we get the results which are just the totals, which are for Caneview High and Cypress High, so Youngsville wasn’t a part of that at all. I reached out to the superintendent and Sandra, and said, please send me the details. It’s obvious that y’all wanted it to be transparent, but why the secret vote? Within an hour, Sandra showed up at my office in a very threatening, condescending, and bullying manner, implying that I’ve made my recommendation now it’s time for her to make her recommendation. She even went so far as telling me that the money spent on the new school can be diverted to rebuild a new Lafayette High if I don’t acquiesce.

Finally, Ritter clarified that he is open to whatever name is chosen for the new school, but has issues with the overall process of its naming

At the end of the day, whether the name is Youngsville High or not, the process should be transparent and the ideas should be vetted. You can’t deny that there is an overwhelming desire and push from the community of Youngsville to name the school Youngsville High. We’re the only community that stepped up to the plate and said we’ll contribute $750, 000 of water and sewer and development costs. So to simply be shunned, disrespected, and bullied because I’m questioning the process is unacceptable and every resident in Youngsville should be furious about this.

Click the image above to listen the full interview with Ritter, and stay with KPEL for further updates on this story as it progresses.

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