The Lafayette Parish School Board’s investigation into Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper should be viewed with skepticism, as those supporting the measure won’t say what the allegations are or how much it's going to cost taxpayers.

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Photos by Robin May
 Rae Trahan

The resolution, introduced by board member Rae Trahan, calls for hiring the Gretna law firm of Grant & Barrow to investigate “complaints” and “allegations” against the super. Trahan, however, did not elaborate on the allegations during Wednesday's meeting, saying only that the alleged "allegations" have been made. She also didn’t say how much the investigation would cost.

Only the board members with a track record of resistance to the superintendent — Trahan, Tehmi Chassion, Tommy Angelle, Greg Awbrey and Mark Allen Babineaux — are the ones to have received these alleged complaints against Cooper.

According to Cooper’s contract, any complaints brought to the attention of an individual board member are to be brought to the attention of the superintendent as well. Yet, according to Cooper, that has never happened.

The IND spoke Thursday with board members Trahan and Kermit Bouillion.  Bouillion, who voted against the investigation, says it's nothing but a "witch hunt," and a waste of taxpayer dollars. According to Bouillion, "There should be published in black and white, clear allegations against the superintendent that requires us to spend the tax payers dollars on a Gretna law firm. The Advertiser says that there are rumors. But no definite allegation was mentioned. The public has a right to know exactly what the violations on his part are."

Trahan tells The IND that although she doesn't have a dollar amount for how much the investigation will cost, she will be watching it very closely. Though she wouldn't specifically say what allegations will be investigated, she did reference Cooper's refusal to fire Thad Welch, the superintendent's assistant for transportation and maintenance, over his lack of a high school diploma.

"It's no secret. What I'm going to mention to the investigator is the issue of why funds are continuing to be removed from a budget line item that has been eliminated," says Trahan. "This investigation will help us come to a conclusion so we can set it aside and move on."

By "move on," she means without Cooper.

 

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