Deeply criticized for her furtive one-day retirement last August, which resulted in a $90,000 lump sum payment for unused vacation and sick leave, Commissioner of Higher Education Sally Clausen is stepping down. It was a wise decision.
As she noted in her resignation letter, dated June 8, Clausen’s retire-rehire debacle has been “a constant distraction to the important work of higher education and to the Board of Regents.” Her resignation is a sad ending to a career in education that has spanned more than three decades, including stints as president of the UL System, president of Southeastern Louisiana University and secretary of education for the state.
“There are still important issues in this session that need attention, not the least of which is final passage of Senator [Ben] Nevers’ bill to strengthen the Regents, the GRAD Act, Performance Based Funding and higher education’s budget,” Clausen continues. “My hope is that in some small way, this decision will bring a sharper focus to these important issues.”
For reasons still not clear, Clausen kept the decision to take advantage of the state’s often-abused retire-rehire program, designed to retain quality teachers, from the 16-member Board of Regents. The governing board had hired her a year earlier for the $425,000 job, $377,000 annual salary plus a $12,000 car allowance and $36,000 for housing. At that time, she became the state’s sixth commissioner of higher education.
Clausen made headlines and drew praise in April when she requested that her salary be cut in half, from $377,000 to $199,000 — what she called a show of solidarity with her employees in a time of deep budget cuts. She also said she would forego the housing and car allowances. Still keeping the retirement under wraps, she told The Times-Picayune at the time that she was unsure whether she would continue beyond the legislative session, citing family obligations that had made her contemplate retirement.
Contemplate? She’d already done it.
Clausen is helping her divorced daughter in Houston care for a 4-year-old, special-needs child who has been diagnosed with a rare illness, the T-P reported. How easy it would have been, even then, to just come clean about the retirement.
Apparently, a handful of people did know about the retirement, but Clausen should never have kept the board in the dark; board members publicly expressed their disappointment. Let’s hope today’s retirement announcement is directly connected to the board’s May 26 executive session, out of which emerged new personnel policies but no comment on Clausen. Her resignation is effective July 1.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue — the second in the last four months.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.