Apr 4, 2013 7:46 PM by Akeam Ashford

Lafayette School Board Member Claims Harassment

Last night, the Lafayette School Board voted to issue Superintendent Pat Cooper a letter of reprimand. Cooper received the letter following the three-month controversy over the hire of his special assistant.

Cooper acknowledged their was an error in the checking of Special Assistant for Facilities, Grounds, Transportaion and Maintenance Thad Welch's resume, but board member Greg Awbrey still wanted to make sure a letter of reprimand was placed in Cooper's personnel file.

"I'm hoping we have a new starting point between the board and the superintendent. this issue is done for me. I think it's done for the board. Everybody can go to their corners on it, and maybe we can come out and start working on something else," says Awbrey.

The action was taken despite dozens of community members speaking on behalf of Cooper and his "Turnaround Plan" for Lafayette's public schools. Many of those in attendance who spoke in favor of Cooper were asked to be at Northside High Monday afternoon.

Those who met, many of the same people in attendance were given a manila envelope; we asked, but was not given one. In that meeting, the Northside High Principal Melinda Voorhies also went over "talking points," delineating what they should all say to the board at Wednesday night's meeting.

The board voted 6 to 3 in favor of reprimanding Cooper. Now the board member who initially questioned Welch's hire, Tehmi Chassion, said he has been targeted since bringing this issue up.

"My tires have been cut five times in the last two months," Chassion said Wednesday night.

Cooper responded in his comments at the end of the meeting that he doesn't have time for that, nor did he tell anyone to retaliate against Chassion.

"I have to go back and watch the DVD to be sure I heard exactly what I heard," Chassion said. "It was some type of veiled threat, in my opinion, towards me."

During last nights meeting, Chassion says, "At some point, seems like everything started to turn for the worse in last night meeting." Chassion later stepped out of the meeting to use the restroom; while there, he was cornered by a reporter from the Independent, who KATC has identified as Patrick Flanagan. Chassion filed a police report stating he had been harassed and pushed by Flanagan while trying to leave. "

The Independent released a report denying the reporter ever touched Chassion. The report states that both the reporter and a witness in the restroom, "both advised this incident did not happen." No one was arrested.

Chassion says he has no problem with Cooper, and he looks forward to the next board meeting two weeks away.

"I'm not in fear for my life. Everything is fine," says Chassion.



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