In the next ten days, Vermilion Parish Schools Superintendent Jerome Puyau will find out if the school board had proper grounds to place him on leave.
On Thursday night, the board voted to postpone a hearing on the investigation, and board members admitted they had no plan of action on how to investigate complaints against Puyau. The hearing went on as scheduled on Friday.
At the formal hearing, only two complaints were entered into the record. Edward Abell, who is an attorney with the Onebane Law Firm, was selected at random to conduct the hearing as the hearing officer.
“Only two people showed up. One of them is a teacher, and one of them was formerly employed by the school board, and neither of them have gone through the proper grievance process about what they were complaining about tonight,” Abell said.
Abell says even though the board voted to postpone the hearing, they didn’t have the authority to do so on their own. Both parties, the board, and Puyau would have had to come to a mutual decision.
School Board President Stacy Landry formed a committee to investigate the complaints. The committee consisted of school board members and other school board employees. The committee never moved forward. There were no board members in attendance at the hearing on Friday.
“They didn’t do it right. I am not saying they are wrong in having concerns about the superintendent; that’s pretty common these days. I think it’s mainly because of the law that changed a few years ago. Superintendents have the authority to hire and fire and run all the business, and school boards are only suppose to do policy. That’s not comfortable to old-time school board people who are used to being right in the middle of everything,” Abell said.
Abell will now consider if the board’s actions were justified.