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.
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.