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Superintendent fires back against Judge and Attorney General

Posted at 6:35 PM, Nov 19, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-31 16:19:51-04

Vermilion Parish Schools Superintendent Jerome Puyau is planning to appeal a judge’s ruling, which nullifies all decisions made during a January meeting, including Puyau’s contract and pay raise.

Judge David Smith says the school board violated open meetings law when a teacher was escorted out of the meeting by police and later arrested.

On Monday afternoon, our interview with Puyau was recorded by Gerald Gaspard, a third party called in by the Superintendent to witness our interview. The Superintendent says to this day, KATC’s initial story of teacher Deyshia Hargrave has changed his life.

“It has ruined myself and my family,” said Puyau. “It has broken me personally. I don’t have crocodile tears right now, I’m talking from my heart. It has changed me as a person, not my commitment to my students, but it has changed me to understand that politics is ugly and they will do anything they can to get rid of me as Superintendent.”

Puyau questions Judge Smith’s ruling. He’s concerned the judge did not see all evidence.

After the incident in January, Puyau created a spreadsheet comparing multiple video and audio clips, including the viral video from KATC showing Hargrave’s arrest.

“By the time the teacher stood up in the audience to the time she was at the door, it was 53 seconds,” said Puyau. “During that 53 seconds, she was asked to sit multiple times, the gavel struck multiple times. There is so much data in the video and that video was never given to the judge who made that decision.”

Attorney General Jeff Landry is praising the court’s ruling.

“I think this is a good day for all the citizens in Louisiana because we have an open meetings law that’s put in place to ensure we maximize public input in a governmental function,” said Landry.

Puyau maintains he’s still Superintendent and wants to make sure his rights are upheld. He believes the ruling will be appealed and added the four board members who constantly vote against him have violated the law.

“What are you going to do Mr. Attorney General? Are you going to address these four board members who did not attend the meeting? They walked out of the meeting for the fifth time in two years,” Puyau said.

Landry plans to have a representative from his office tour Louisiana to meet with public bodies to educate them on open meetings laws.

“I would hope that now, we can go about setting some great examples with them on how to conduct those meetings in a matter that is applicable to the law and we can all move on,” Landry said.