The Lafayette Parish School Board has a newly drafted policy on school board absenteeism. The executive committee of the board Friday marked-up the old policy. Last month, a former board member filed a formal complaint about board members missing scheduled meetings. School board attorney James Simone explained that he's reviewed the absentee polices of other school districts and only a few had a penalty requirement. “We got eight or nine samples and maybe only one or two had anything in there about sanctions,” says Simone.
Board members Tehmi Chassion and Tommy Angelle were the only non-committee board members in attendance. Angelle says he wants a policy that doesn't count workshops as a regular board meeting. “The point I want to make is why don't we make it the regularly scheduled meetings and then we can meet all we want at one o'clock or ten o'clock.”
Chassion says his previous missed meetings are accounted for. Chassion wants to inform the committee that the new absentee policy should allow more leeway. “If for various reasons like hospitalizations, illnesses of one of your children, or basically being at work; your full time job.”
The drafted policy adds illness or death in the immediate family as an excused absence – beyond the five allowed. In the old policy, the board had the power to qualify a written excuse as an exception. Under the drafted policy – a written excuse is an automatic exception. “So, I just simply write I was at work and give that to somebody?” asks Chassion.
“It's much more important to attend the regularly scheduled meetings than some of the workshops that will last one or two minutes and you vote on them; you must vote again at the regular meeting,” adds Angelle.
Executive board member Shelton Cobb says currently there are no outstanding absentee fines. If a board member incurs a fine prior to the new policy, then that fine will remain due after the new policy is approved.