This year’s evaluation of Superintendent Pat Cooper was an exercise in futility, nothing more than a tool for some Lafayette Parish School Board members to pave the way for his termination.
The annual evaluation is based on an eight-point scale, with zero meaning “unsatisfactory” and eight being “distinguished.” A four is “good” and a three equals “average,” according to the evaluation form. Per Cooper’s contract, he can be terminated by the board upon receiving a “negative” evaluation. He scored a 4.067 cumulative score on last year's evaluation, which was released during the same meeting that the board voted to launch its witchhunt investigation of the superintendent.
This year’s results were handed over to Cooper by the board prior to Wednesday’s meeting.
As expected, they weren’t good.
In all, Cooper received 63 zeroes from board members: 23 from Tehmi Chassion, 13 from Mark Allen Babineaux, 11 from Rae Trahan, 9 from Tommy Angelle and 7 from Greg Awbrey.
“You have to be dead to get a zero,” Cooper told The Advocate.
For each of the evaluation’s 28 standards, board members are given a section for comment. The forms from Chassion, Trahan and Angelle proved telling, as the board members, despite dolling out so many zeroes, left not one comment justifying their score. Not one.
For board members Awbrey and Babineaux, their comments also proved telling, showing the opposition of each toward Cooper’s turnaround plan for the school system, specifically his focus on improving the district’s at-risk schools.
“Focuses on one group of students an (sic) seems willing to sacrifice the rest of the system for this goal,” writes Awbrey.
Babineaux’s comments indicate a distaste for the alternative program at N.P. Moss Prep. (Remember Babineaux recently submitted a budget proposal calling for N.P. Moss’s closure, which, it’s worth noting, would violate state and federal laws.)
Babineaux also complains about a “30 point plus drop in score” at J.W. Faulk Elementary (Cooper has requested additional funding to help the at-risk school get on the right track by hiring more teachers and support personnel).
Babineaux concludes with a comment used twice in his assessment: “Atmosphere is one of fear, mistrust and intimidation.”
There was one bright side to Cooper’s evaluation: board members Kermit Bouillion, Shelton Cobb and Mark Cockerham all gave the superintendent across-the-board eights, likely knowing what their fellow board members were up to.
Thanks to their effort, Cooper’s cumulative evaluation score came in at 3.54, which, based on the evaluation scoring sheet, is above “average.”
Click here to view the evaluations.
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