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Gary Lee Jones
District 5 member of the
Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Preceded by Jay Guillot
President of Louisiana BESE
Assumed office
January 2017
Personal details
Born October 1946 (age 75)
City missing
Washington State, United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sarah Wheeler Jones
Children Two sons
Residence Formerly: Monroe
Ouachita Parish

Currently: Alexandria
Rapides Parish

Alma mater University of Louisiana at Monroe

U.S. Army War College

Occupation Retired school superintendent
Military service
Service/branch United States Army

United States Navy
Louisiana Army National Guard

Rank Brigadier general

Gary Lee Jones (born October 1946) has been since January 2017 the president of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, based in the capital city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[1] According the The U.S. News & World Report, Louisiana's education system ranks 48th out of all 50 states in the nation.[2] A Republican from Alexandria, Jones was elected to the District 5 seat for primarily northeastern and Central Louisiana in the primary held on October 24, 2015.


Born in a military family in Washington State,[3] Jones himself served for 37 years in the military,[4] in both the United States Army and the United States Navy. He reached the rank of brigadier general in the Louisiana Army National Guard,[5] of which he was a member from 1976 to 2006.[6]

Jones obtained his Bachelor of Arts, Master of Education, and Ed.D. from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He engaged in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, all dates unavailable.[4][6]


From 1971 to 1999, Jones was employed by the city school system in Monroe in Ouachita Parish, which he considers his hometown. From 1999 to 2003, he was superintendent for the Claiborne Parish School Board in Homer. From 2003 to 2012, he was superintendent for the Rapides Parish School Board in Alexandria, where he still resides.[5]

In 2011, he was named "Superintendent of the Year" by the American Association of School Administrators and the Louisiana Association of School Executives. In Rapides Parish, Jones turned around an $11 million school deficit into a $14 million surplus by what he calls "targeting" resources: "A lot of money comes through our district. I just try to put it where it will get the best results."[3] Jones said that as superintendent he worked with troubled students to keep them out of trouble with the law: "I get personally involved with troubled students. Instead of getting expelled, such students meet with Jones to sign a performance contract. We negotiate a contract between the student and me, and then we both agree to live up to it."[3]

In the 2009–2010 school year, Jones was the president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents.[4] From 2012 to June 2015, he was the assistant state education superintendent for policy implementation in Baton Rouge under John C. White.[5] Since July 2015, he has been an educational consultant.[6]

In his race for the BESE seat, incumbent Republican Jay Guillot, an engineer with the firm Hunt Guillot & Associates LLC of Ruston,[7] did not seek a second term. Jones instead defeated another Republican, Johnnie Ray Fatheree (born February 1953) of Downsville in Union Parish, a businessman who formerly studied at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Jones polled 77,301 votes (62.3 percent) to Fatheree's 46,863 (37.7 percent).[8] The district encompasses these nineteen parishes, some of small population: Caldwell, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, East Carroll, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Rapides, Richland, Tensas, Union, and West Carroll.[8]

Neither Jones nor Fatheree reported having any campaign contributions for the race.[9] Prior to the election, however, Jones received $35,000 from four political action committees.[10] James Garvey, Jr., who won a third term in District 1 in suburban New Orleans, reported the most assets prior to the 2015 primary election.[9]

Jones said that he expects the controversial Common Core State Standards to be phased out in Louisiana with the establishment of academic standards in mathematics and English by the individual states. As an incoming BESE member, he vowed to work for higher standards in Louisiana: "A kid should not get condemned to a lower quality education because of his zip code."[5] Jones indicated that he prefers a series of informal teacher evaluations, rather than one annual formal evaluation. He also supports merit pay.[5]

Since joining BESE, Jones has faced continuing issues regarding Common Core and the status of the employment of State Superintendent John White who was given a positive annual review by the board in 2017, but he has not had an official contract since 2016. As Jones noted, the board lacks the 6/11 vote to place Jones under a renewed contract, and it lacks the same vote required to dismiss him. Jones said that he has generally supported White: "He has done some good things for Louisiana. I know there are folks that won't agree with that statement, but I look at it, I haven't always agreed with everything he did, but on balance, I have to (acknowledge that)."[1] Jones said that the future focus of BESE must be on school accountability: "What I have become a big fan of is parents having opportunities."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Miranda Klein (August 26, 2017). "BESE President: Louisiana education a work in progress". Retrieved August 27, 2017. 
  2. "Education Ratings: Measuring How Well States are Educating Their Students". Retrieved October 11, 2019. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Gary L. Jones, Ph.D. - Louisianian of the Year - Education: Schools chief 'negotiates' with troubled students". Louisiana Life. January 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Louisiana Public Square: Dr. Gary L. Jones". Louisiana Public Broadcasting. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Bonnie Bolden (October 7, 2015). "Gary Jones in running for BESE seat". Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Gary Jones: Educational Consultant". Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  7. "Louisiana Tech receives gift from Hunt, Guillot and Associates, Canterbury Family". Louisiana Tech University. July 22, 2013. Retrieved November 15, 2015. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Results for Election Date: 10/24/2015". Retrieved October 28, 2015. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Will Sentell (September 29, 2015). "These 3 candidates' campaign war chests outweigh the rest in key BESE races". Retrieved November 13, 2015. 
  10. Elizabeth K. Jeffers. "Billionaires and their Super PACS Vie for Control of Education in Louisiana". Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2015. 
Preceded by
Jay Guillot
Member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for District 5 (Caldwell, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, East Carroll, Evangelne, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Rapides, Richland, Tensas, Union, and West Carroll parishes)

Gary Lee Jones

Succeeded by

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