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Greg Awbrey Tehmi Chassion
Lafayette Parish School Board members Greg Awbrey and Tehmi Chassion may be playing with fire as far as Thad Welch is concerned. The so-called “issue” over Cooper's refusal to fire Welch will likely hit a boiling point at the end of tonight’s meeting thanks to an agenda item introduced by Awbrey calling for a “potential” closed-door session to discuss reprimanding an individual listed only as “P.C."

"P.C." is obviously a reference to Lafayette Schools Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper, who confirmed with The IND this morning that he is indeed the subject of Awbrey's session.

Cooper says in his 40-plus years as an educator, not once has he been reprimanded. He says Awbrey’s agenda item, which stems from Cooper’s refusal to fire Welch over his lack of a high school diploma, is ultimately an attempt to terminate Cooper himself.

State law allows the target of an executive session to forego discussing the issue behind-the-scenes, and that, Cooper says, is just what he plans to do.

“I’m taking this very serious, and I’m pleased to have this go before the public,” says Cooper. “I believe some board members have distorted this whole issue. They’re not telling the truth about things in order to discredit me, and I’m excited to finally share my side of the story.”

The IND spoke with Awbrey following a meeting Monday at Northside High organized by the school’s principal, Melinda Voorhies, to rally support for Cooper’s turnaround plan. Awbrey and fellow board members Chassion and Mark Allen Babineaux heard from a number of respected business and community leaders and two LPSS principals, all of whom came out in support of Cooper, each repeating the need for the school board to back off and stick with policy-making. The message, however, did little to move the trio.

The IND also spoke this morning with board member Kermit Bouillion, an outspoken supporter of Cooper, who says "We need to start focusing on education and the safety of the students in the parish, and put all these petty items behind us because there are much larger issues we need to be focusing on."

Well said.

Tonight’s board meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

You won't want to miss it.

Click here to read our coverage of Monday's meeting at Northside.

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