Civil damages grossly inflated in former principal Douet’s lawsuit
Former N.P. Moss Middle School Principal Ken Douet is seeking more than $500,000 from the school system for what he claims is school board favoritism that prevented him from taking over as principal of the Early College Academy following Moss’s closure, but the erstwhile school administrator’s monetary demands have more than doubled since October of last year when Douet calculated that he was owed $195,422.
Douet was principal of N.P. Moss when the north Lafayette middle school closed in 2011 due to consistently poor performance scores. According to the lawsuit Douet filed in April against the school system, board policy and state law made Douet eligible for the next available position within the school system that was similar in both stature and job duties to Douet’s former administrative position.
But a majority on the school board bucked its own policy in June and July of 2011 when it twice blocked Douet’s appointment as principal of the Early College Academy, a promotion being pushed by former Superintendent Burnell Lemoine. Board members say they had no idea at the time of the votes that Douet and Lemoine were close friends. The board's actions, according to board member Mark Cockerham, were to “stop rewarding principals of failing schools.”
Douet, a 2004 finalist for state principal of the year who remains employed by the school system as a staff development specialist at the Vermilion Conference Center (his contract isn’t up until June 2012), says in his lawsuit that the board’s vote was pure political retribution that stripped him of “the prestige he was entitled to.”
The $500,000 Douet outlines in the lawsuit is more than double the amount he demanded a little more than six months ago, when his lawyer, Lane Roy, told school board attorney Jimmy Simon in a letter that Douet is owed $195,422.
“I discussed with him coming up with a demand for what has taken place against him by the school board, and asked him to consider it carefully,” Roy says in the letter. “We discussed it a couple of times, he has thought about it ... The total demand is $195,422.29.”
In the Oct. 26 letter obtained by The Independent, Roy provides the following breakdown of Douet’s demand:
Pay difference for the 2011-12 school year $5,001 Cost of file copies/materials $300 Administrative pay difference for 3 years $90,121.29 Policy/contract violation $100,000
Douet now claims in the lawsuit, according to The Advocate, that he’s owed “$105,124 for three years’ pay, $150,000 for potential damages for loss of reputation and future income and employment and $250,000 for future damages due to loss of positions or payments in future positions.”
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