Former board member asks Vermilion super to step down

Posted at 12:52 PM, Aug 06, 2018

Former Vermilion Parish School Board member Anthony Fontana, once a supporter of superintendent Jermone Puyau, bought an ad in the Abbeville paper, asking Puyau to step down.

Tonight, the school board meets in special session to discuss the "character and competence" of Puyau.

Several members of the board have been gunning for Puyau for some time, despite the continuing success of the school system in terms of test scores. While he was on the board, Fontana was a member of an opposing group who supported Puyau.

When he resigned from the board earlier this year, he said he was doing so because he had only stayed on the board to get Puyau a contract, and having done so he was ready to retire.

We’ve reached out to the superintendent to see if he has any reaction.

Here’s the full letter, which was published in the Abbeville Meridonal: 

Dear Superintendent Puyau:

When you came to see me when the Board opened the position for Superintendent of Vermilion Parish Schools I told you that I did not think you had the experience necessary to be the leader of our school system. Then you interviewed with the Board and your interview was the most impressive interview I ever sat through on my tenure on the Board. You won me over and I cast my vote for you. along with many other board members, and you got the job.

You did not disappoint me and I supported you until the end of my tenure on the board. Your talent and ability to understand data helped turn our school system to the envy of school systems around the state. You helped Abbeville High become an A school to the surprise of everyone.

I fought hard to get you the contract that you earned. But once you were secure with your contract, you became a different person. You have alienated the board members that have been your biggest fans to the point that I believe all of the present Board have no confidence in you.

The morale of our employees is the worst that I have ever seen in spite of the fact that the system has been able to sustain the system’s impressive standing against public school systems around the state.

The recent rankings, while impressive, have documented slippage. The question is whether that slippage is the result of a school board who has no confidence in you and want you gone and whether our employees no longer look to you as a worthy leader.

I for one, as a former supporter, acknowledge and want to thank you for your accomplishments. It has been a great run. However, I truly believe that it is now in the best interests of the school system that you step down as superintendent and negotiate a new job or jobs that you are highly qualified to perform to serve out your contract. You have gotten the system to the mountain top, but I don’t believe you can do anything to keep the system there.

If you truly care about what is best for the parents, children and employees of the system, you need to turn over the job of superintendent to Assistant Superintendent Paul Hebert until the new Board that comes in on January 1, 2019, can open the job for someone to replace you. It is time that the Board Members come together and the turmoil stops. Do the right thing and help the system come together.