Mar 19, 2014 10:11 PM by Tina Macias
The Lafayette Parish School Board approved a contract with a private law firm to serve as its temporary main attorney tonight, four months after it dismissed the District Attorney's services.
The board appointed Baton Rouge-based Hammonds & Sills as its "interim general counsel" while it searches for a permanent replacement in February. But it had not approved a contract.
Hammonds & Sills will be paid in accordance with the maximum hourly rates set by the Attorney General, $175 an hour.
Superintendent Pat Cooper contested the contract because he said there were procedural issues beginning when the DA was dismissed.
"I do have an obligation to protect the board. I have to make sure state law is filed," Cooper said.
The DA was removed after the board's appointed-ADA halted the hiring of a special attorney to investigate some of Cooper's hiring and managerial practices, which he says are protected by Act 1.
The board considered only requiring president Hunter Beasley to sign the contract, or compelling Cooper to sign the contract, but in the end, approved the contract without any special signing requirements.
"He has to sign anything that's passed by the majority of the board," board member Tehmi Chassion said of Cooper. "Just do your job. In my opinion, (refusing to sign) is just a PR campaign and we'll continue to be the laughing stock of the area."