GMA

Apr 4, 2013 8:36 AM by Kristen Holloway

An Ongoing Dispute at the Lafayette Parish School Board Comes to an End

A months-long dispute between the Lafayette Parish School Board and Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Pat Cooper came to a head Wednesday night when the board voted 6-3 to place a letter of reprimand in Cooper's personnel file.

The letter of reprimand focuses on policy problems which came to light after the hiring of Thad Welch in March, 2012, as special assistant to the superintendent. Welch was hired even though he did not have a high school diploma, which was required in the job description for the position.

Voting in favor of the motion to reprimand Cooper were Greg Awbrey, who placed the item on the agenda, Hunter Beasley, Rae Trahan, Tehmi Chassion, Mark Babineaux, and Tommy Angelle. Mark Cockerham, Kermit Bouillion and Shelton Cobb voted against the reprimand.

Funding for that position was cut by the school board at its March 20 meeting.

In the reprimand letter, board member Greg Awbrey said Cooper withheld information about Welch's lack of a high school diploma from the board, violating state law and board policy. Cooper disagreed, saying he was told that Welch could be hired even though he does not have a high school diploma.

"It's all about performance, it's all about experience, it's about my first hand knowledge of the job he could do and then it's about our human resources people telling me nobody else is even close to being qualified like he is," said Cooper.

The meeting continued well after midnight, largely because of a lengthy public comment period early in the meeting during which more than 30 community leaders, principals and teachers spoke in support of Cooper in anticipation of the reprimand vote.

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