Aug 28, 2014 7:06 PM by KATC

School Board votes to accept attorney's report on Dr. Cooper

Happening at the Lafayette Parish School Board meeting tonight, board members accepted a report from their attorney on whether they have cause to fire Superintendent Pat Cooper over various management decisions they disagreed with. The board hired Dennis Blunt to conduct the investigation of Cooper. Cooper signed a four-year contract in 2012. Under state law, a board may fire a superintendent prior to the end of his or her contract for a number of reasons: incompetency, unworthiness or inefficiency; failure to fulfill the terms and performance of the contract; or failure to comply with school board policy.

Cooper said at the board's August 20th meeting that Blunt and an associate questioned him on seven issues: The hiring and continued employment of Thad Welch, a special assistant to the superintendent who doesn't have the education required for the job. Seeking reimbursement of legal bills from attorney Lane Roy, whom the superintendent hired to represent him last year Hiring an assistant director and director of transportation who did not have commercial driver's licenses. Closing the Lafayette Charter High program. Hiring some principals last year at a different pay than other principals. Entering into a memorandum of understanding with the state Department of Education for less than $10,000 without board approval. Using public funds to hire a public relations firm for a property tax renewal.

Blunt addressed those issues, plus other issues including the budget dispute. Blunt also says Cooper is inefficient, he failed to comply with school board policy, and his "conduct is unbecoming of a instructional leader" of the Lafayette Parish school system.

Cooper says this investigation is just an attempt by the board to get rid of him because he is making changes. He says he does not plan on stepping down. "None of this surprises me. I'm not scared," says Cooper.

The board voted to accept the report and have the attorney prepare charges against Cooper. The charges are a list of violations where Cooper may have violated state law or board policy. The charges will be presented to the board, and they will have to vote on each one, deciding whether they will accept them. If they accept the charges, Cooper will have to prepare a defense. A hearing will then be held where both sides will present their evidence. If Cooper is found guilty, he could be subject to termination.



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