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Controversial JP school board appointee resigns

Rafael Rafidi said that he only wanted to make the parish "a better place for all."
Credit: Jefferson Parish Schools
Metairie businessman Rafael Rafidi takes the oath of office to join the Jefferson Parish School Board on Jan. 5, 2022. Rafidi was appointed by the board to fill the spot vacated by Larry Dale when he resigned at the end of last year.

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — Rafael Rafidi, a controversial appointee to the Jefferson Parish School Board, has resigned from his post three days after the Jefferson Parish school board asked him to step down.

"In the past few days, I have come to realize that the school board's efforts to serve the children of Jefferson Parish might be more effective if I stepped down," Rafidi wrote in his resignation letter.

The school board put out a statement Friday, Jan. 7, asking him to step down from the position they had just appointed him to days earlier.

"The non-civil tone, profane language and generalized condemnation of opposing ideological groups is indefensible and inconsistent with the Board’s objective of unity and mutual respect," the statement said. "We specifically take exception to his post demeaning teachers."

Tweeting in 2018, Rafifdi said, "Teachers are the fall of our young people in this country. No values, no work ethic, and just suck as much as you can from those that work hard. Good job".

In Feb. 2021, Rafidi replied to a tweet from former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "Go f--k yourselves," Rafidi wrote. In another tweet, he called Cassidy a "piece of s--t". He called Landrieu a "f-----g traitor."

Rafidi's social media doesn't say whether he had gone inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but it does say he was at the Stop the Steal Rally and walked over to the Capitol.

In Rafidi's resignation letter, he says that he is a "steadfast patriot" and that his social media posts are only representative of his "passions for our country."

Board Member Billy North, who voted "yes" to Rafidi, is owning up to his part in the appointment.

“We made a mistake and we have to fix it, and it will be fixed,” he said Friday, after the board requested Rafidi’s resignation.

North admitted board members did not do enough digging into Rafidi’s background, and some of them, including North, met Rafidi for the first time on the day of the vote.

“He came highly recommended by a former board member, and there was nothing given to me before the vote to make me think otherwise,” North said.

North committed to changing the way new candidates are vetted for the school board positions and vowed transparency going forward.

“We made a mistake. And I apologize for my yes vote. I didn’t know, but there’s no excuse. But it won’t happen again, and we’re fixing it. We’re fixing it,” he said.

Rafidi's appointment came during a special meeting held before Wednesday's regular school board meeting. Rafidi was reportedly the only candidate who expressed an interest in the job.

   

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