By Monday, Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent James Easton will be moved out of the Lafayette Parish School System's central office. The 72-year-old administrator, who has served as the parish's superintendent for more than seven years, is holding his final staff meetings this week and packing up his office in the evenings.
Last week, the Lafayette Parish School Board voted 7-2 to buy out the remaining 18 months of Easton's contract. Board members Mike Hefner and Rickey Hardy voted against the move, calling it fiscally irresponsible. The final cost of the buyout is estimated to be around $282,000, after factoring in Easton's deferred compensation benefits.
Easton agreed to be out of office by July 1, at which point deputy superintendent and Chief Academic Officer Burnell Lemoine will take on the superintendent's duties. At its next board meeting July 18, the board will officially appoint an interim superintendent, likely to be Lemoine.
As deputy superintendent, Lemoine has typically filled in for Easton when he has been away. Lemoine also previously served as interim superintendent in Lafayette prior to Easton's arrival in 2001. From 1986 to 1991, Lemoine was superintendent of the school system in Avoyelles Parish.
The process for selecting Easton's permanent replacement isn't clearly defined. Greg Davis, who heads up the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce's education division, plans to meet with school board President Carl LaCombe this week to discuss plans for selecting a new superintendent. "Whether or not the chamber is involved, whether or not the community is involved, is all up to the school board," Davis says. "That's an open question, and we're curious to find out what the process will be."
LaCombe did not return calls for comment.
Some school board members have recently stated a desire to tap someone from the local area to replace Easton, foregoing any major statewide or national search for candidates. If that's the case, Lemoine would likely be a leading candidate for the post. While the school board's relationship with Easton turned rocky, Lemoine has remained popular with a majority of its members. Throughout a lengthy dispute with Easton over grants administrator Amy Trahan, several board members favored putting Lemoine in charge of the district's Title funding ' a job he oversaw prior to Easton's reorganization of staff in 2005.
While he has previously expressed little interest in the superintendent's job, Lemoine indicated just last week that his thinking may have since changed. "I might [apply]," Lemoine told The Independent Weekly. "I'm going to have to certainly sit down and give that some thought and consider it." He'll meet with LaCombe at the beginning of July to discuss the board's plans for moving forward on an interim basis and beyond. "I'd like to know exactly what [the board] would like to do," he says. "Then I'll make a final decision at that point."
In addition to Lemoine, another potential local candidate whose name is being bandied about is Don Aguillard, superintendent of the St. Mary Parish School System for the past three years. Prior to that, Aguillard served as an area director with the LPSS and is a former principal of Carencro High School.
Easton, meanwhile, might accomplish the feat of collecting severance pay and landing a new job; he's applying for the superintendent's vacancy in St. Landry Parish. "I would like to try and serve as a superintendent one more time," he says. "I like Acadiana; make no mistake about it. If they're interested, I would like to try and make a contribution there." The St. Landry Parish School System is looking to replace Lanny Moreau, its superintendent of the past seven years. Much like Easton's situation in Lafayette, Moreau left after being at odds with several of his board members. Moreau opted to retire on May 31 with six months still remaining on his contract, pre-empting any move by the board to oust him.
Several of the issues between Moreau and the board involved disputes over the school system's 42-year-old desegregation case ' a matter likely to be a priority for its next superintendent. Easton already has experience in that regard. During his tenure as superintendent here, LPSS achieved unitary status in its desegregation case after four decades of federal oversight.
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
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Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.