Alumni and parents plead for change outside of Sacred Heart

Nearly 100 people stood outside of Sacred Heart School in Ville Platte Monday morning protesting against Principal Diane Fontenot.

Alumni and parents carried signs pleading for a change, many of them are not happy with the decisions that have been made by administration lately.

One parent, Jeffery Sylvester, says it is time for a new principal. “We’re trying to get a message to Bishop Jarrell that we want change at Sacred Heart. We want Ms. Paula Diane Fontenot to resign immediately.”

Sylvester has had ties to Sacred Heart for 26 years and has six children. Five of those kids graduated from the school, and one is currently a freshman.

Sylvester says during Fontenot’s time as principal, faculty and staff members have come and gone in alarming numbers. “In the last five and a half years, almost six years she has fired and hired over 83 people and before that in like 10 years it was only seven or eight people.”

He says since their school’s advisory committee was dissolved last year, Principal Fontenot has been the sole decision maker. Sylvester said it has been an ongoing back and forth between parents and administration, and says some people have already stopped donating to the school.

The latest disappointment is the firing of the school’s Athletic Director, Robert Soileau.

“This past week just before a state playoff game she fired the athletic director that’s been here for years and football players are picketing and will not play football this season if he is not reinstated,” says Sylvester.

Deidre Fruge is a Sacred Heart alumna who taught at the school for 28 years before resigning in 2009. “It was getting to the point where we were told that we didn’t care about the students and that’s not what it’s all about. We’re not here for the salary, we are here for the kids. You know it’s all about giving back to the Lord and those kids because they’re our future.” She says it is saddening to hear negative comments about the school. “I think one of the things that really hurts me the most is that is when I have some of my students or I have a parent that says I can’t wait until my children are finished with this school.”

Sylvester said they will protest throughout the week.

The Diocese of Lafayette issued a statement Monday which stated that Athletic Director Robert Soileau’s termination cannot and will not be shared to the public. The statement said: “We are calling upon everyone who forms part of the Sacred Heart School community to conduct themselves positively and with Christian courtesy which is a hallmark of Catholic education. These last few weeks of school should be focused on remaining positive. Nothing should detract from this important time and from the graduation ceremonies ahead.”

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