Kojis resigns as Avoyelles School Board president

By GARLAND FORMAN  In a shocking development, Van Kojis resigned as president of the Avoyelles School Board during the board’s special meeting last Tuesday. Vice President Mike Lacombe took over the presidency.Kojis made his announcement at the start of the meeting and apologized for his actions after a radio show March 23.“I do not want my actions after the radio show to interfere with the desegregation lawsuit,” Kojis said. “I said some things to a person after the radio show in the heat of the moment that should not have been said.”When asked after the meeting what happened, Kojis said a man went up to him after the radio show and aggressively put his hands on him. Kojis said he raised his hands and told him not to put his hands on him ever again. Kojis added he said some words in the heat of the moment that he shouldn’t have said.The radio show concerned board attempts to raise revenue by raising lease prices for campsites on board-owned property. The show was conducting a question and answer session on why the board was raising campsite leases and charging a permitting fee of $200 to use School Board land.The broadcast was made from a room at a local restaurant, which was packed with camp owners and hunters.“It seems that I am the lightning rod on this issue and I don’t want my presence as board president to become an issue for the school system to be declared unitary. I want to defuse the situation in order to convince the camp owners to pay their deposits on camp leases,” Kojis said. “I will continue to represent District 8 and help this board work to a conclusion of desegregation.”Social media posts by numerous hunters and camp owners have been critical of Kojis and the board’s recent decisions.“I don’t care what social media says,” Kojis said. “I care about the education of children in this parish. I just felt the process of improving education will be better served with me stepping down as president. This board needs to move forward with the education of children.”Both District Attorney Charles Riddle and Allen Holmes, the plaintiff in the ongoing parish school desegregation case, voiced their dismay at Kojis stepping down as president. They both said Kojis had served the board well as its current president and also in the past as president.“I didn’t expect this,” Lacombe said after Kojis stepped down. “I have big shoes to fill, but I can fill them.”Kojis has said he will run for state representative in the fall.“I am still committed to run in the fall,” Kojis said. “Again, I’m doing what I thought was best for the education system of this parish.”

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