Mar 13, 2013 11:21 PM by Erin Steuber

Lafayette Superintendent tells Principals: "Take control of your schools"

Lafayette Parish Superintendent, Dr. Pat Cooper, is responding to a group of teachers who say they're fed up with a lack of discipline in the classroom.

So many of you are talking about this story after teacher Abby Breaux fought back tears before the school board one week ago. Breaux, a 25 veteran of the classroom, says things are so bad in the system she won't be back next year. Breaux's story spread on social media, it was even picked up by the Washington Post. Now, Superintendent Cooper is addressing her concerns with action.

This year more than 150 Lafayette parish teachers have left their jobs, teachers like Andrea Thibodeaux.

"The principals need to be empowered. I feel like the principals have had their hands tied for a while, and right now this is a time where they can say, 'okay, these are the problem kids; these are the ones were having a lot of trouble with; these are the ones that are disrupting the classes; and now we can take a stand,'" said Thibodeaux.

Jennifer Guillory isn't sure if she'll be back next year.

"The problem with keeping the kids in school is you're spending all your time, and resources, on your lowest producing product," said Guillory. "Businesses that do that go out of business, and we can't afford to go out of business. We have to start spending our resources on the students that want to learn, the students that can learn."

"The message is take control of your school," said Cooper.

In response to their concerns, Cooper wants to further empower principals in the parish. First step, before spring break, he wants them to meet with parents of problem students.
"Whether it's your top 5 percent, or top 10 percent, bring those students in with their parents and say, 'alright here's the way we're going to do things, the next offense you're going to be gone,'" said Cooper. "I think that's going to get the attention of parents, and I think we're going to be able to get some response."

Cooper says the hope is to keep children in school, but now it's also about keeping teachers in the classroom.

"I think we all agree, it was time to take another step in our discipline process. You know what we're trying to do is keep all our kids in school, and I think that's a real noble effort. But this is a six year process, we're not going to keep all the students in school the first year. I think everyone was trying to do that, and a lot of time, I think the principals were thinking that's what I wanted them to do. So there was some miscommunication there," said Cooper.


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