Geographic Planning and Demographic Services hired to help EBR Schools redistrict

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – After a redistricting firm abruptly resigned, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System has hired Geographic Planning and Demographic Services to lead the effort.

Thursday, the board selected the firm after nearly an hour of discussion.

Geographic Planning and Demographic Services is a firm ran solely by Chief Demographer Michael Hefner.

“This is a people’s plan. They need to have trust in that the plan that was developed is the very best plan that represents their need,” said Hefner.

During his presentation Hefner made comments on why the board should select his company over the competition Data Center.

Those comments sparked rebuttal from board member Dawn Collins who questioned Hefner’s character.

“This man did not come with any shade against his competitor and that’s why if you’re going to throw shade, lets level the playing field with shade,” said Collins.

Shortly after, board member Evelyn Ware Jackson made note of the RFQ which stated the board wanted to hire a firm that would include a diversity partner to help the district that is predominantly African American. 

Jackson said the RFQ was clear and still she had a “burning question” asking why Hefner declined to have a diversity partner after saying he goes “above and beyond” for his clients.

“I’m not really sure what you’re looking to get with a diversity partner. I do all the work myself. I like to be hands on with any of these plans because when I make a presentation on plans somebody has touched on; I want to be able to answer it. I don’t want to have to turn to somebody and say what did that look like when you did that,” said Hefner.

During public comments, majority of the people who approached the podium requested that the board select Data Center. 

Board members said they will ensure the process is fair as Dadrius Lanus expressed from a historical point, minority groups “feel like they have been slighted in the past.

The company previously in charge of redistricting claimed in a letter that school board members refused to meet with them, a claim Lanus denied.

A redistricting process occurs every ten years along with a census to ensure that the community is represented equally.

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