Statement from LPSS Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper

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The children’s education is the most important goal that any of us should have. Six members of the
Lafayette Parish School Board have directed me as Superintendent to begin the process of advertising a
version of the 2014-2015 budget that those members have prepared. I am declining to undertake that
directive because it is contrary to the best interest of the children. In addition, it is also a directive that
goes against recognized policy and procedure and one that could ultimately end up causing violation of
state and federal laws and causing disproportionate harm to the poor and minority students as well as
the school district as a whole.

In Act 1 of the 2012 legislative session, the responsibility for assuring that all state school laws are
complied with was switched from the local school board to the superintendent. I, as Superintendent,
have a duty to not only protect the school board, but also the thousands of employees and thousands of
students from the repercussions of breaking federal and state law or policy of the Louisiana Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education and/or the Louisiana Department of Education rules and
regulations.


The budget that those six members of the Lafayette Parish School Board are directing me to advertise is
replete with flaws, including unlawful cuts and off the cuff decisions that lead to shortages of dollars
that are required to do the business of educating our children, taking care of the needs of the disabled,
and enhancing our programs for our highest performing students. I, in good conscious and in respect for
the law and the public, with whom I must maintain trust, cannot proceed with the adoption process
when I do not believe the document is a fair and honest representation. Why would I as Superintendent
advertise a budget that I know is unlawful? How is the public to be expected to review a false budget?

There is also a more apparent legal side of this process that clearly instructs and guides me to not
advertise the budget the Board is proposing. It is procedural and continues to be misunderstood by the
Board and their legal counsel. According to the Legislative Auditor, the budget that is to be advertised is
the Superintendent’s budget, not a budget that has been conceived by the Board. The Board has been
made aware of this numerous times to no avail. As late as this morning we have spoken to the legal
section of the Legislative Auditor’s office and this requirement has been verified once again.
What is next is that I will work with the finance section to develop a detailed balanced budget to be
advertised. That process could take up to a week since the Board has not allowed any of my budgets to
go forward. I will then place on a future meeting agenda to get Board approval to advertise.


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