The former Lafayette High dance teacher arrested in December following complaints that she inappropriately touched six students is suing the Lafayette Parish School System for what she claims is a violation of state teacher tenure laws in connection with her termination.
Katie Champagne was arrested in December 2011 on six counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and placed on paid administrative leave following her arrest. A grand jury in May declined to formally charge the Lafayette High dance teacher, returning a “no true bill” on the charges.
A school system employee told The Advocate at the time that Champagne was free to return to work. But according to the lawsuit filed Monday in 15th Judicial District Court, Champagne received a letter of termination from Superintendent Pat Cooper dated July 26, which Champagne claims is in violation of state tenure laws.
Champagne contends in the lawsuit that Cooper terminated Champagne, a tenured teacher, based on the new state teacher tenure laws took effect on July 1. She claims that the observations that led Cooper to fire her for “willful neglect of duty” were obtained during the 2011-2012 school year before the new law took effect.
Under the new law, Champagne has seven days to respond to the letter and request a tenure hearing. The old tenure law requires that the school board hold a tenure hearing before dismissing a tenured teacher and provide written notice to the tenured teacher in question at least 20 days before the hearing date.
She’s asking a judge to intervene and compel the school system to follow the procedures outlined in the old tenure law, which would automatically grant Champagne a tenure hearing before the board without her having to request one.