In a two-sentence document that was issued before the close of business Friday, Lemelle ordered the status conference, which will be held in open court on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, at 10 a.m.
Lemelle's order calls for counsel for parties in the Joyce Marie Moore, et al v. Tangipahoa Parish School Board case to be present, as well as "Superintendent Mark Kolwe, Chief Desegregation Implementation Officer Dr. Lynell Higgenbotham and Compliance Officer Arlene Guerin shall be in attendance."
There was no further explanation for the status conference in the court documents, which Action News 17 has viewed online.
The order, signed Friday by Judge Lemelle, is the most recent document posted on the court's website regarding the 40-plus year old suit, which was resurrected approximately three years ago over questions about equitable hiring and allocation of resources in the Tangipahoa public school system. Observers to the case expressed surprise over the weekend, as the next expected court date for the case was planned for May 7, when attorneys for the plaintiffs are asking Lemelle to consider possible contempt charges against the district and its handling of a wastewater treatment facility at Ponchatoula High School and temporary classrooms and emergency repairs instituted at Kentwood High School after a fire at the school last December.
The district is currently mulling a proposed consent decree to settle the longstanding suit by creating new schools and funding guidelines to be in place parishwide. That proposal will go to the federal courts no later than April 30, according to documents previously filed into the public record.