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May 6, 2014 6:25 PM by Kari Beal

Lafayette Parish teachers could face early resignation fines

The Lafayette Parish School Board will consider a contract change that would fine teachers if they break contract and leave before the end of the school year.

In the past two years, almost 300 teachers -- about 10 percent of the workforce -- have resigned in Lafayette Parish. The administration is proposing a $2,000 fine if teachers leave before March 15th and a $1,000 fine if they leave after March 15th. All teachers in Lafayette Parish would be required to sign the contract before next school year.

"We thought it was something that would get people's attention and make you think twice before walking off the job," LPSS Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper said.

Currently, teachers sign what's called a letter of appointment before starting work. Dr. Cooper said their lawyers checked over the contract and it's completely legal, but some teachers are upset they didn't get more voice in this new contract.

"I hope at some point they try to address the root cause of these resignations, rather than impose fines," President of the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators and Lafayette High School teacher Rodolfo Espinoza said.

The administration came up with the higher $2,000 fine before March 15th because this is when teachers do the most leg work, prepping their students for upcoming tests.

"What we're trying to do is to keep those people who say, 'I want to make a career change' and they just leave," Cooper said.

The fines imposed include teachers who resign before the school year starts and tenured teachers. But Espinoza says fines are not the way to go.

"If they are trying to address the problem of resignations, I don't think this is the answer," Espinoza said.

The Lafayette Parish School Board will discuss the contract during its meeting tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m.

Want to see more stories from Kari Beal? Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @Kari_EBeal.

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