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.
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.