KATC Investigates

Feb 12, 2014 7:02 PM by Tina Macias and Steven Albritton

LPSB offered bribes?

More controversy has come to a head at the Lafayette Parish School Board, where at least one member says he was offered Saints football tickets ahead of a vote.

Then-board president Shelton Cobb said Tikia Consuting Group offered him tickets to "two or three" Saints games last year after the group was hired but before the board chose an insurance administrator.

"I just told them that I didn't want them," Cobb said.

That consultant, Tikia, is the topic of a special board meeting set for tomorrow. Consultant Rina Tikia has been working without a contract since June and is demanding $200,000 from the board.

"Things may come out in the meeting tomorrow and board members will have to deal with that," Superintendent Pat Cooper said. "We know that is under investigation by various law enforcement agencies, and we're going to let that roll out."

Tikia was the topic of the closed-door board meeting last week that ended with police being called and board member Tehmi Chassion accusing Cooper of shouting at him and grabbing his arm.

KATC spoke with six board members about the gift allegations. Cockerham would not comment on the issue, only saying that it may come out during tomorrow's meeting. Hunter Beasley said he was never offered gifts and that he's "tired of the lies."

"She never offered me anything, whether it be Saints football tickets or a trip to Paris or a trip to the Winter Olympics. She never did any of that. She was actually really professional," Beasley said.

Greg Awbrey, Mark Babineaux and Tommy Angelle were surprised to hear the allegations and said Tikia never approached them with gifts.

Chassion, Kermit Bouillion and Rae Trahan did not return phone calls requesting comment.

Tomorrow's meeting will address payment for TIkia. Last year, Tikia recommended Key Benefit Administrators as the board's health insurance provider, but the board ultimately went with long-time provider Blue Cross Blue Shield after an outcry from teachers.

Babineaux, Cobb and Beasley were members of the Executive Committee that recommended Tikia Consulting. In June, the board unanimously OK'd the consulting group. Awbrey was absent.

Then, in September, the board voted down choosing KBA as a health administrator, Tikia's recommendation. Beasley, Chassion, Cockerham and Trahan voted for KBA. Voting against were Angelle, Awbrey, Babineaux, Bouillion, and Cobb.

A month later, Bouillion changed his mind and brought up the motion again. Bouillion, Beasley, Chassion, Cockerham and Trahan voted for KBA. Voting against were Angelle, Awbrey, Babineaux and Cobb.

But that vote was deemed illegal because the first vote wasn't rescinded. Amid outcry from employees, the board rescinded all their previous votes, extended Blue Cross Blue Shield's contract for a year and began the process over. Only Trahan and Chassion voted against that plan.

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