Tehmi Chassion is a member of the Lafayette Parish School Board, but his antics during a recent recreation league basketball game make him seem less like someone elected to fight for the education of our youth and more like the hot-headed Bobby Knight of Indiana Hoosiers fame.
That display of immaturity could — at least in part — explain Chassion’s newfound stance against the school system’s superintendent,
Photo by Robin May
Dr. Pat Cooper, the man he was pivotal in helping bring to Lafayette Parish.
In recent weeks the 32-year-old school board member has been raising hell over the hiring of Thad Welch, Cooper’s hand-picked special assistant for facilities, maintenance, grounds and transportation.
Chassion has pushed and pushed for a re-vote on Welch, allegedly because the job description calls for a high school diploma, which Welch does not have. Welch previously worked under Cooper for 17 years in the McComb, Miss., school district, and has since generated solid support from those currently working under his command, as witnessed during previous board meetings.
As The IND previously reported, by continuing to push the issue, Chassion and company may be in violation of Robert’s Rules of Order since they were either on the opposing side of the vote approving the budget allocation for Welch’s position, or absent when the vote was held, as was the case for Chassion.
With the potential legal ramifications coming to light for the school board members, Chassion’s support on the Welch issue may be dwindling. Board member Tommy Angelle last week voted against putting the issue up for a vote, saying he wanted more time to study the issue.
It was a wise decision on Angelle’s part for a number of reasons, namely a July 18, 2012, meeting in which the board approved major changes to its hiring and firing policy, a policy that had gone untouched since 2001. Those changes, which transferred the majority of hiring and firing powers from the board to the superintendent, were approved unanimously by the board — sans Greg Awbrey and Hunter Beasley, who were both absent. That means Chassion and Angelle approved them.
Worth noting is that one important element not changed by the board’s 2012 amendment is the system’s hiring criteria, which is based on a weighted scale. According to that scale, of all the criteria a candidate is judged by, education is only given a weight of 8 percent. That means 92 percent of the evaluation for hiring someone is based on other factors, like how well they do in an interview (35 percent), performance record (20 percent) and their professional/technical work experience (13 percent).
Now, back to that youth basketball game.
The Feb. 2 contest between the Thunder and Lynx — of the 9- and 10-year-old division of the Lafayette Parks and Recreation girls basketball league — must have been one very important game, especially for Chassion, who coaches the Lynx. So that’s what it looks like based on an e-mail correspondence between the opposing team’s coach and Lafayette rec officials.
Here’s how Thunder coach Phil Gallet recounts what happened in this Feb. 4 email to LPRD athletic program supervisor Frank Wittenberg:
Tehmi Chassion received a technical foul for arguing a call (which he did the entire game) and a second technical foul for refusing to stop arguing the call, which he was warned prior to each technical to stop by the referee.
Once the second technical was issued (Chassion) refused to leave the gym. The referee made a phone call, then informed the coach he had to leave or the game was going to be forfeited. [H]e refused to leave. The referee then went to get the gym supervisor. When the gym supervisor entered the gym, Mr. Chassion yelled “call who you have to call, or do what you have to do, I’m not leaving.”
According to Gallet, Chassion, after briefly disappearing, returned to the gym shouting, “It’s not over.” Finally, Gallet says, the school board member left the premises.
Chassion, however, had already made quite the impression on his young players, who yelled while the free shots were being taken by the Thunder. After being warned by the ref that they were not allowed to yell during the free throws, the players instead fake coughed and sneezed during each shot, Gallet writes in the email.
Wittenberg, in a Feb. 11 email, writes that LPRD officials spoke with and disciplined Chassion as well as the referee. He writes:
Our staff has spoken with both and we are confident no further conduct similar to this will be displayed again. Our staff is monitoring all gyms and special concern is given to areas where we believe issues may arise.
Coincidentally, Gallet’s team ended up losing to the Lynx, despite the referee’s warnings to Chassion that the game would be forfeited if he continued acting the ass.
A voicemail message left on Chassion's cell phone this morning was not returned.
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