|Photo by Robin Msy|
|LPSB's Hunter Beasley|
The eagerness shown earlier this week by Lafayette Parish School Board president Hunter Beasley upon receiving a findings report from the special attorney investigating Superintendent Pat Cooper quickly faded once his fellow board members started asking for copies.
Beasley’s story has also changed since Monday’s declaration to The Advocate that he’d received the report from Baton Rouge attorney Dennis Shelton Blunt, who was hired by the board to investigate Cooper for a series of unknown allegations.
Upon receiving the report Monday, Beasley called for a special meeting Tuesday for discussion and possible board action on Blunt’s findings. With Cooper out-of-town and unable to attend, the meeting was postponed until next week.
This story, however, took an even stranger turn on Tuesday after requests from at least two board members for copies of Blunt’s report were denied by Beasley, who gave differing reasons for why he couldn’t produce the document.
Those board members are Shelton Cobb and Mark Cockerham, both supporters of the superintendent who say they’ve felt ostracized by the board’s other six members — Beasley included — during the course of the investigation into Cooper, as seen with the stubborn refusal of those six board members to abide by state law and publicly cite the specific reasons for the probe.
Cockerham made his request in an email sent Tuesday to Beasley in which he writes:
I would please like a copy of the report that Mr. Blunt gave you.
Cobb also made his request for the report via email, writing:
Mr. Beasley, do you have in your possession a copy of this report[?] If so should you share it with the Board[?] I would like to see it.
According to Cobb, who spoke with The IND by phone Wednesday morning, Beasley’s initial response was that he’d accidentally deleted the report from his phone. But in a follow-up email, Beasley says he’d does have Blunt’s report. Cobb, however, still didn’t receive a copy.
Cockerham, in an email this morning responding to questions from The IND, says Beasley told him no copies will be distributed to board members, at least not this week:
I have still not seen the report. [Beasley] said he would not give it to any board member before next week unless instructed by the board. They were actually going to deliver the report without interviewing Dr. Cooper.
In an interview with The Advocate on Tuesday, Beasley — who recently stopped responding to The IND’s phone calls and emails — is now saying the reason he’s holding onto the report is because it’s unfinished, though that didn’t appear to pose much of an issue Monday when he called for a special meeting the next day, including a resolution allowing for board action if needed.
One likely reason for Beasley’s reluctance to share the report, even with his fellow board members, is that Cooper, despite being the sole target of the probe, was never interviewed by the investigating attorney. Despite having launched the investigation three months ago, Blunt didn't make contact with Cooper until Monday, after he'd already submitted his report to Beasley. And according to the Advocate, Cooper sent a text message to Beasley addressing this concern and whether the board president had shared the report with other board members.
In his texts to Beasley, Cooper writes:
How can there already be a draft of the report that is fair and unbiased when Mr. Blunt has not talked to me at all? Sounds like it is pre-determined.
Has [there] been collusion?
Beasley also claims that aside from Blunt, only his eyes have seen the report. He also stipulates during Tuesday's interview that what he received is only “preliminary,” an unfinished version.
“What I have is a document that is going to be completely different from the finished document,” Beasley tells the Advocate. “I feel that for the integrity of the investigation that [the board] should receive the report that’s finalized with Dr. Cooper’s input and Mr., Blunt’s input.”
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
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