St. Landry

Mar 15, 2012 11:13 PM by Shawn Kline

Superintendent resigns, assistant passed-up by board

A school board meeting takes a wild turn; St. Landry Parish Interim Superintendent Donnie Perron resigned.

The move caught many people by surprise with the many financial problems the school board is faced with.

Here's a quick history:

Last year, the parish settled a 46-year-old desegregation case, setting the budget back.

Then, Superintendent Michael Nassif abruptly announced his retirement after being on medical leave since October.

Now, the school board faces a $4-million deficit with no recovery plan in place. Layoffs are likely and now, the board receives Perron's resignation.

In a letter to board members, Perron writes:

"For the past four and a half months... I have recommended cost saving measures at every board meeting with little or no results."

And, "...the financial problems can only be solved by working together and accepting the difficult cuts that must be made."

The school board put-off or voted-down many of those cuts Perron recommended and are now left with another difficult decision:
Who will step-up as superintendent?

"We just got through spending $200-million on a segregation issue," Board Member Anthony Standberry said. "We're sitting here and still see segregation is bigger today than it has been in years."

Standberry suggested promoting the next person in line, long-time Assistant Superintendent Joseph Cassimere, an African-American, but the board voted that down and abruptly adjourned.
Among the many outraged by the board's decision, Arnaudville Elementary Principal Elsie Semien says overlooking Cassimere shows underlying race issues among some board members.

"He's overlooked again and again," Semien said. "I don't care what race Joseph Cassimere was, he's the man for the job at this time."

Cassimere will assume the responsibilities of the superintendent until the board chooses a replacement.



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