DA, PD quiet on Guillory claims

Published 10:52 am Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In February, PAISD Trustee Joseph Guillory II accused Board President Kenneth Lofton Sr. of using his position on the board to profit off of PAISD facilities when using them as venues for his basketball league. Guillory said he contacted both the Jefferson County District Attorney and the Port Arthur Police Department and asked them to investigate the matter.

However, so far, the DA’s office will not say whether or not they’re investigating the complaint and PAPD did not respond to inquiries about it. It is unclear what legal action, if any, has been taken in response to the allegation.

“They’re still in the process of gathering information,” Guillory said when asked for the status of his claims with the authorities.

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However, it’s not clear that Lofton has broken any rules.

Lofton and Superintendent Mark Porterie have both said there is nothing wrong with the current setup. Lofton has been using school facilities for his basketball league for about a decade and the program does not appear to conflict with any existing policy that the district provided.

In his letter to the Jefferson County DA, Guillory said, “Any use of school property must be accompanied by a written requisition approved by the facility principal and then Administration office. PAISD policy strictly prohibits the use of any such district property for personal or commercial profits, gain or advertisement of any nature.”

Lofton said he turned in the required forms and PAISD Superintendent Porterie agreed.

In a written response to The News, Porterie said the basketball program “is an extension of the district’s afterschool tutoring program for students in need of extra instruction during the school day. The afterschool elementary basketball program is a school sponsored event.”

Thus, it would not qualify as a for-profit organization according to the superintendent.

Furthermore, Porterie wrote, “As a student support program, the elementary basketball league has been governed under Policy GE (LOCAL) for the past 10 years. As such, the league is allowed to use district facilities with the approval of the campus administrator. There is no fee or insurance requirement for school support organizations such as this program.”

In a follow-up piece, Guillory wrote, “Dr. Porterie’s interpretation of GE LOCAL, if correct, as it pertains to the use of our facilities, then all programs affiliated with our kids should fall under that umbrella.”

However, in the school district’s policies, which are available on the school’s website, GE (LOCAL) states that “District-affiliated school-support or booster organizations shall organize and function in a way that is consistent with the District’s philosophy and objectives, within adopted Board policies, in accordance with applicable UIL guidelines and financial and audit regulations.”

The News asked board attorney Melody Chappell for clarification on the policy issue. However, Chappell declined to comment and instead referred questions to Porterie. Meaning, unless the police or the DA do get involved, the superintendent’s word may be final.