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Puyau files federal lawsuit against LeBeouf, Pillette, & Dupuis

Former board member Sara Duplechain also named in suit
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Posted at 8:26 AM, Sep 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-17 17:30:31-04

ABBEVILLE, La. — Vermilion Parish schools superintendent Jerome Puyau is suing three current school board members and one former board member, alleging that they violated his civil rights.

Board president Laura LeBeouf, vice president Kibbie Pillette, David Dupuis, and former board member Sara Duplechain are all named as defendants in the federal lawsuit.

According to lawsuit, the four board members denied Puyau his civil rights when they successfully moved to put him on administrative leave twice--once in August 2018 and again in July 2019--without a hearing.

The lawsuit claims that by suspending Puyau, the board members deprived Puyau of a protective property - his contract - and "liberty interest in his employment" by denying him due process.

The lawsuit states the board members, through their actions, "irreparably damaged" Puyau's reputation--so much so that a school board member in another district told him that it would be "political suicide" to hire him as superintendent.

The lawsuit also accuses the four board members of malicious prosecution by suing Puyau without board authorization in an attempt to have him removed from office.

The suit also outlines alleged personal vendettas three of the board members have against Puyau. According to the suit, LeBeouf showed hostility towards Puyau because he removed her as principal of Kaplan High School after a "lengthy period of disability."

The suit also claims LeBeouf and Pillette wanted to remove Puyau because he "refused to alter job descriptions and refused to hire (Pillette's) wife and (LeBeouf's) husband."

The suit accuses Dupuis of having a vendetta because Puyau refused to hire him as an assistant superintendent.

Other claims against the board members include abuse of process, breach of contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Puyau is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages and an injunction preventing LeBeouf, Pillette, and Dupuis from discussing or voting on agenda items "involving or concerning" Puyau.

This is the full complaint as filed in the Western District Court of Louisiana:

This is a timeline of the conflict between Puyau and the board so far: