School board counters ex-superintendent’s lawsuit

The Lafayette Parish School Board took action regarding two lawsuits on Wednesday.

The board voted 7-2 to allow its defense counsel to file for a re-conventional demand, and pursue any other legal defenses available, in a suit brought in by former Superintendent Pat Cooper.

State statute allows defendants to assert in such a demand “any causes of action which he may have against the plaintiff in the principal action.” The specifics of what will be included in the demand were not immediately available.

Cooper had filed for an injunction seeking to have a judge declare the district’s 2014-15 budget invalid, and authorize the system to use 50 percent of last year’s funds. District Judge Durwood Conque denied that request. Court documents show that Cooper and his attorney, Lane Roy, had filed a memo for a new trial, saying that a letter from State Superintendent John White that was not available during the original trial indicated that the board-adopted budget was not legal.

That memo was filed in late October. The board fired Cooper as superintendent on Nov. 6.

In the same injunction, Cooper had unsuccessfully sought to remove Board President Hunter Beasley, board member Mark Babineaux and board member Tehmi Chassion from voting in his termination hearing.

In a separate matter, the board voted to authorize its attorneys to file an appeal and pursue any other legal remedies regarding a suit by The Daily Advertiser against Beasley and the board.

The newspaper had filed suit seeking all reports resulting from the board’s three-month investigation of Cooper, and a determination that those documents were public records. The suit came after Beasley and attorney Dennis Blunt had refused to turn over the reports, saying they were protected from public view by attorney-client privilege.

Judge Jules Edwards ruled last month that the documents became public records as of Oct. 1, when the board voted to receive Blunt’s complete investigation report.

Also on Wednesday:

The board voted to change the district’s counselor staffing allocation formula. Under the new formula, each school will have at least one full-time counselor. There will no longer be any part-time counselor positions. Student Services Director Beverly Breaux said no extra positions will be added at this time.

The school board and district officials recognized its principals of the year. They were Stacy Danos of Live Oak Elementary, John Mouton of Broussard Middle and Ken Roebuck of Carencro High. Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau said the honorees have continually displayed a strong commitment to quality education and student achievement.

The school board approved a job description for a possible new position of college and career coaches. The coaches would help counselors to work with students to prepare for graduation, college preparation and career readiness. Officials said the coach would be recommended based on a school’s graduation rate, with approval from the school board and administration.

However, the creation of the description did not immediately create the position. Breaux said system officials may look for grant funding or other options if they receive viable applications.“There could be many ways to utilize this job description, even if we did not have it in our general fund budget,” Breaux said.

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