Aug 6, 2012 11:15 PM by Maddie Garrett
Governor Bobby Jindal's education reform is giving new power to superintendents across the state when it comes to hiring and firing faculty and staff. But school board members are voicing their concerns.
St. Landry Parish Interim Superintendent Joseph Cassimere appointed a new principal last week at Eunice Elementary, without a single vote from the board.
"It kind of takes away from everything the school board could do, or the school board members could do," said St. Landry Parish School Board Member Anthony Standberry.
School boards across the state no longer have a say in who goes and who gets hired. Standberry warned, it could be a slippery slope.
"For one person to have that say as to who stays and who goes, that's just quite a bit to put in one person's hands," said Standberry.
But Cassimere said he's taking on this new control with great care while acting as superintendent.
"But in the process, if you have to terminate someone I also like to make sure and give them due process, make sure I provided, or the system provided, every opportunity for he or she to improve themselves before it comes down to this person being terminated," explained Cassimere.
Cassimere said his goal remains the same, to improve education and test scores in St. Landry Parish. He also hopes the new rules will help St. Landry Parish Schools get back on track.
"Some of the pros would be that perhaps the process would be done quicker than it's been done before, as in wait until the next board meeting," said Cassimere.
St. Landry Parish is still trying to dig its way out of deep financial troubles and recently underwent a Reduction in Force (RIF). Standberry said so far, Cassimere has been nothing but fair.
"He works hard at it, he follows policy in everything he does as far as the RIF plan. I would think he would do well for us," said Standberry.
Superintendents gained this new role through House Bill 974, the same bill that changed teacher tenure. While superintendents are now authorized to hire and fire without board approval, the law sets some guidelines.
It requires superintendents to base all employment related decisions, including dismissal of teachers and administrators, primarily on performance and effectiveness. It always requires school boards to develop policies that delegate Reduction in Force decisions to the superintendent which he or she will use when dismissing teachers and other employees at any time a RIF is instituted.