LAKE CHARLES, La. — The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal from Vermilion Parish School Superintendent Jerome Puyau for a lawsuit filed last year by Attorney General Jeff Landry against the Vermilion Parish School Board.
In November 2018, 15th Judicial District Court Judge David M. Smith ruled that the school board violated the Open Meetings Law in a special meeting that was held in January of 2018 where a teacher, Deyshia Hargrave, was escorted out of the meeting by a police officer and subsequently arrested.
The ruling nullified all decisions made during that January meeting, including Puyau’s contract and a pay raise.
In an interview with KATC after the decision, Puyau vowed to appeal the ruling with the Third Circuit.
On Wednesday, the appeals court issued an opinion that dismissed that appeal citing the lower court’s prior dismissal of Puyau as a party in the lawsuit where he argued that “the Open Meetings Law applies only to public bodies and not public officials or employees of a public board.”
The decision was made the same day that Puyau announced that the Vermilion Parish School District had attained an "A" letter grade is ranked #2 in the state.
The opinion states that:
...given the final judgment rendered in favor of Mr. Puyau...we conclude that he is not a third party who currently has a right to intervene in the action. The final judgment dismissing him as a defendant precludes him from having a subsequent right to intervene in the action...Had he wished to remain in the action as a defendant, he should have appealed the scope of the dismissal rendered in his favor.
KATC reached out to Puyau’s attorney, Lane Roy, who stated that they intend to appeal this decision with the Louisiana Supreme Court, but that a final decision might not be delivered until January of next year.