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UPDATE: Three SMILE members ousted

Posted at 12:11 PM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-28 23:07:57-04

UPDATE: The SMILE Community Action Agency’s Board of Directors has removed three of its members.

The decision was made during tonight’s meeting.

John Billiot and Wallace Ozenne were voted out because of “excessive absences from board meetings.” Neither were at the meeting.

We tried to call Ozenne on his cell phone, but our call went unanswered.

Billiot said all of his absences were work-related and excused. He tells KATC he plans to sue SMILE.

Africa Arceneaux was removed for allegedly causing a hostile environment.

“You have made repeated written and verbal threats to utilize speculative information against the board,” read the board president, Marlon Lewis.

Arceneaux said she’s being removed for voicing concerns about the way the board appointed its interim CEO.

“Now that I have brought forth this information, I am being bullied because I refuse to be complicit with their scheme to defraud the government. […] I am the victim of repetitive slander from members of this board against my person, and it is a defamation to my character,” she said, raising her voice as other board members tried talking over her.

She says she is planning to pursue legal action once again.

“I will file a suit against everyone in their official capacity, so I will see you guys in court,” said Arceneaux.

Arceneaux and Billiot have been at odds with the board for a while.

Arceneaux was removed from the board in February of last year, but she went to court and a judge reinstated her in July.

That same month, the board voted on a motion to remove Billiot, but the measure failed.

In July of last year, the federal government pulled $17 million from SMILE’s Head Start program after a series of abuse allegations.

Then, in June of this year, C.E.O. Chris Williams resigned.