Jan 18, 2013 7:40 PM by Erin Steuber
Lafayette Parish Superintendent, Dr. Pat Cooper, is firing back at some school board members over the employment of one staff member. Questions were raised at last week's meeting whether the special assistant to the superintendent should be allowed to keep his job. Some say he shouldn't because he doesn't have a high school diploma, the minimum education requirement for the position.
Next Wednesday, the board will decide whether to amend the job description. School board member Tehmi Chaisson hasn't changed his mind since bringing the issue to the board's attention last week. He says the job is being done well, but hiring the employee sends the wrong message.
"The big issue is that us, as a school system, we're preaching education to our kids. We're preaching be all you can be. We're preaching get your education, strive for the stars," said Chaisson. "Yet, I guess it really doesn't matter as long as you know who's hiring."
The employee has overseen facilities, maintenance, grounds and transportation since last February. And this is not the first time Dr. Cooper has worked with him.
"I worked with him for about 10 years. I know what kind of a person he is. He's hard working. He treats people fairly. He expects the very best," said Cooper.
In a letter to the editor of the Daily Advertiser, Cooper said "it's inevitable when restructuring a school system a nerve will be hit, business as usual will be disrupted, and the good ol' boys will be annoyed."
"The fact of the matter is, the board doesn't have the power to fire. They can fire me. But I'm the only one that can fire him, and I can tell you, I'm not firing him," said Cooper.
Chaisson said he will vote against any new changes to the job description.
"If he chooses not to do the right thing, I think basically the next step could be seeking a motion to terminate the superintendent," said Chaisson.
"I have no regrets. I've worked with him, I don't think that should change anything. If anything it should give me a better feel for this employee because I'm not taking any chances," said Cooper.
The Board's Executive Committee has decided to let the full board decide whether to amend the job description to say a high school diploma, or GED, is preferred but not required. That meeting will be held Wednesday at 5:30 at the school board office and is open to the public.
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