Two BESE appointees leaving the board this month

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Two of Gov. Bobby Jindal's appointees to the state's top school board announced Friday they are leaving,

and the governor tapped his former chief of staff to fill one of the vacant spots.

Penny Dastugue of Covington and John Bennett

of Port Allen said they are stepping down from the Board of Elementary

and Secondary

Education. They stayed for the first year of the governor's second

term to provide continuity while the board got new members

and a new superintendent.

Their departures were effective Friday.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to

work with so many dedicated and talented people who are so committed and

focused

on providing an excellent education for all of our children,"

wrote Dastugue, who was an elected BESE member for four years

before being appointed to the board by Jindal in 2008, in her

resignation letter.

Jindal appointed his former chief of staff Stephen Waguespack, a Baton Rouge lawyer, and Judy Miranti, director of the Division

of Education and Graduate Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, as their replacements.

The 11-member board includes eight elected

members from districts around the state and three gubernatorial

appointees who

serve at-large. BESE oversees the crafting of education policy for

the state's more than 712,000 public school students and

70 school districts.

Bennett said he and Dastugue agreed to serve longer to provide stability.

Dastugue served as BESE president for two

years, as the board oversaw the creation of a statewide voucher program,

expanded

charter schools around Louisiana and grappled with continued

budget complaints from school districts. During her time on the

board, she worked with three different state education

superintendents.