Shortly after our blog on BESE’s approval of the two applications for Type 2 charters hit TheIND.com on Tuesday, a conversation about comments made by Lafayette Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper erupted on our Facebook page.
The comment that sparked it all came from Layne Darby St. Julien, who writes:
Comments were made by several people against accepting these charter applications — including the state president of the League of Women Voters, the president of the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators, well-known Lafayette teacher/mentor Melinda Mangham, a UL faculty member, a former professor of education, former and present school board members, parents, and more. Their remarks were thoughtful, considered, and well-researched. However, Dr. Pat Cooper — the last speaker — said, among other things, that in Lafayette Parish, “when people don’t like stuff, they just lie.” It was an obnoxious and unnecessary comment, and an insult to those who had travelled to Baton Rouge to make statements about an issue that matters a lot to them. Cooper already knew the BESE vote would be in favor the charter schools, so it’s difficult to understand why he chose to make such an inflammatory statement. Utterly disappointing.
The IND spoke with Cooper late Tuesday afternoon, and he says St. Julien’s account of what went down takes his comments out of context.
Here’s his response:
I sat there for two hours listening to people come up there and not tell the whole truth about what we’re trying to do with the charters. They kept saying, ‘The superintendent this and the superintendent that,’ and were basically trying to speak for me. So when I did have my chance to speak, I wanted to clear the air and may have not said it in the best way.
When I said, ‘When people don’t like stuff they just lie,’ I was talking about those same people at school board meetings, who when things don’t go their way, will make stuff up. I wasn’t talking about the whole of Lafayette, but a certain pocket of people who have used mistruth when they’re not happy with what’s going on.
If my comments gave the impression that I was talking about the whole of Lafayette, then yes, I did misspeak, because I was meaning to refer to those who’ve been so resistant to change, those certain former and school board members and people from the former administration.
Below is a look at St. Julien's post on The IND's Facebook feed, and a few of the responses it generated:
Shortly after our conversation this afternoon, The IND received Cooper's official statement in this email sent out by LPSS Community Collaborations Director Angela Morrison:
In my remarks today at the BESE hearing regarding Charter Schools in Lafayette, I made the comment that 'when people don't like stuff, they just lie.' I'd like to clarify that remark, which might be misconstrued when taken out of context. I know the vast majority of people in Lafayette are honest, hardworking and committed to the betterment of the community. And I know that there are healthy, constructive disagreements about the best way to move forward.
But I stand by my comment when it comes to the small group of determined folks who continue to make statements in public, before our board and today before BESE, that purposely distort the facts. These people are trying to thwart the change our children desperately need. I love Lafayette and I have the utmost respect for the commitment that has been made by so many to ensure the school system’s success for our students. We'll keep fighting to make this district the best it can be.
And if you happened to miss the blog that sparked it all, read it here.