Aug 15, 2014 4:18 PM by Tonya LaCoste

Lafayette Superintendent explains why he refuses to advertise budget

Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent Pat Cooper is responding to why he isn't advertising the 2014-2015 budget at the request of six board members. In an emailed statement, he said the members' directive is not in the best interest of students and is against policy and procedure that could violate not only state laws but federal laws.

Cooper says advertising the budget could cause "disproportionate harm to the poor and minority students as well as the school district as a whole." He cites Act 1 of the 2012 legislative session which shifted the responsibility of complying with state school laws from local school boards to the the superintendent. "I, as Superintendent, have a duty to not only protect the school board, but also the thousands of employees and thousands of students from the repercussions of breaking federal and state law or policy of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and/or the Louisiana Department of Education rules and regulations," he said.

Cooper went on to say the budget is filled with flaws, illegal cuts and "off the cuff decisions that lead to shortages of dollars that are required to do the business of educating our children, taking care of the needs of the disabled, and enhancing our programs for our highest performing students." Cooper said he won't advertise an unlawful budget.

Cooper said according to the Louisiana State Auditor, the only budget to be advertised is the superintendent's budget, not one the board devised. "The Board has been made aware of this numerous times to no avail. As late as this morning we have spoken to the legal section of the Legislative Auditor's office and this requirement has been verified once again."

Coopers next step, working with the school district's finance department, is to develop a balanced budget to be advertised. "That process could take up to a week since the Board has not allowed any of my budgets to go forward," he said. Once that's completed, he'll add it to a school board meeting agenda for the board's approval to advertise.


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