Feb 5, 2014 10:49 PM by Tina Macias

Consultant the topic of closed meeting that led to police at LPSB

The closed-door meeting at the Lafayette Parish School Board that ended in shouting and the police called tonight was over a health insurance consultant threatening a lawsuit.

Tikia Consulting issued a demand letter to the board on Monday, asking for a $200,000 payment within 15 days or face a lawsuit. A contract for Tikia was never finalized.

Board member Themi Chassion says he asked for an email from an employee during the meeting, which led to Superintendent Pat Cooper shouting, "That's my employee," grabbing his arm and spinning him around. Cooper says he just touched Chassion's arm.

In the demand letter, Tikia claims the firm was hired in June and terminated effective Feb. 1. No decision was made during the meeting and an open meeting over the topic will be held next week at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13.

Former state Rep. Rickey Hardy and KATC objected to the closed meeting, citing state law. Board members Mark Babineaux and Greg Awbrey stayed out of the closed meeting, concerned that it was called illegally.

Under Louisiana law, an executive session, or closed meeting, can only be held on potential agenda if an agenda includes "a statement identifying the parties involved and reasonably identifying the subject matter."

Such a statement was not included in the agenda.

The agenda, revised late this Tuesday, only stated that board would like to meet behind closed doors to discuss, "Tikia Consulting - Possible Litigation."

Tikia Consulting was hired in June to help choose the board's health care administrator. At the time she quoted a price of $100,000, but a contract was never signed, said Mona Bernard, director of LPSS' office of risk management.

The firm later presented a proposed contract with a $200,000 fee, Bernard said.

Although Tikia has not received payment directly from LPSS the consulting group has received broker compensation, according to Mona Bernard, director of LPSS' office of risk management.

The group received about $15,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield, LPSS' health care administrator, and $22,000 from CVS Caremark, the prescription provider, Bernard said.

Blue Cross Blue Shield was awarded a 1-year extension of its existing contract, against Tikia's recommendation, after questions about the selection process arose last year. In the past, the school system's Insurance Committee worked with a consultant to find an insurance administrator. Instead, a school board committee selected the administrator.



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