Lafayette Board Won’t Disclose Information About Cooper Investigation
The Lafayette Parish School Board won’t publicly disclose information about its investigation into Superintendent Pat Cooper, which began this week.
Cooper distributed a letter Wednesday waiving his right to privacy in the matter, because Board Attorney Jon Guice advised the body at its May 21 meeting against publicly discussing the personnel issues surrounding the Superintendent. (Read the letter in its entirety below.)
"I welcome public scrutiny of any and all information that the LPSS School Board members have."
The letter also accuses the Board of violating state law R.S. 42:263, which provides that “no parish governing authority,” including school boards, may retain special counsel “unless a real necessity exists, made to appear by a resolution thereof stating fully the reasons for the action and the compensation to be paid.” In any case, the Attorney General must approve the investigation, the statute continues.
The Attorney General approved the investigation twice, but no clear explanation about the reason for investigation has been disclosed — although some board members often question Cooper’s management practices.
Only Board Members Kermit Bouillion, Shelton Cobb and Mark Cockerham voted in favor of providing disclosure about why the Board hired special counsel to investigate Cooper.
Meanwhile, board members begin their annual, individual evaluations of Cooper, with results to be presented June 18. Cooper gets to decide whether those results are made public, and he will have the option to respond, whether verbally or in writing.
The Board meets again Thursday, June 5, for a budget workshop.
Dear Lafayette Parish School Board Members:
I welcome public scrutiny of any and all information that the LPSS School Board members have relative to charges against the Superintendent that can be proven. Therefore, I am formally waiving my right to privacy as it relates to this school board meeting and the action item dealing with the board charges against the Superintendent.
Having made note of that, I remain steadfast in my belief that the Board has violated the law as it pertains to R.S. 42:263 in regards to stating fully the reasons for the action in the original resolution. That absence of specificity has led to widespread conjecture that could do irreparable harm to my reputation. In addition, because the Board has been notified in such possible violation relative to this possibly faulty resolution by its legal representative in the past, and it has still approved that resolution to investigate the Superintendent, there is possible violation of R.S. 9:2798.1.
Pat Cooper, Ed.D., Superintendent
Lafayette Parish Schools