Lafayette

Feb 13, 2014 11:33 PM by Erin Steuber

Quick Meeting at LPSS On What Could Be Long Term Issue

A rare, quick meeting for the Lafayette Parish School Board on what could turn into a long term problem. The special meeting was called to address the board's health care consultant. Tikia Consulting is demanding $200,000 from the school system, despite not having a contract. But the elephant in the room was the recent allegations of bribery by the consultant to some board members. At least one board member admitted to us he was offered Saints tickets just before a vote on the consultant-recommended health insurance provider. But the issue wasn't addressed. When someone hinted at the topic Board President Hunter Beasely shut it down.

"This is not the purpose of the meeting and what you're talking about is totally different," said Beasley. "They're allegations. If they were something that was verifiable and proven I might have considered it. But at this point in time, they aren't verifiable."

And while he was outspoken during the meeting, Board Member Mark Cockerham declined to comment about the issue. But Wednesday, he was quoted in The Independent admitting he took Saints tickets from the consultant, but didn't use them, and tried to give them back. Cockerham defended himself, saying "...at the time I didn't realize what was going on, that she was trying to bribe me."

"I'm sure there will be people out there searching for the truth.I don't know that it will come back to our board meeting, or whether it will be done through the law enforcement agencies, but I'm sure it's not going to go away," said Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper.

But other board members are surprised by the allegations.

"I was surprised that it was only a couple of people that were offered something. It seems like they would try to ask everybody. I'm not disappointed that I didn't get offered something, it's just kind of an odd thing at a school board," said Board Member Greg Awbrey.

Cooper says several law enforcement agencies are investigating this issue, though he declined to provide specifics.

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