The schools superintendent application pool for Lafayette Parish has officially closed with 32 applicants vying to replace retiring Superintendent Burnell Lemoine.

Among the nearly three dozen applicants is Dr. Pat Cooper, the current CEO of an early education center in New Orleans and a very well-spoken reformer with a track record of results.

Cooper, who served as the keynote speaker in March at the United Way of Acadiana’s annual banquet and also met with The Independent’s editorial board the same day, brings to the table an inspiring story of school reform. A former teacher and state Department of Education supervisor, Cooper worked as a superintendent in West Feliciana Parish and McComb, Miss., and now oversees an early education center in New Orleans. He implements a coordinated school health program that focuses on poverty-stricken children from birth to 5 years old receiving solid developmental training — and health care resources — to ensure that underprivileged and often underperforming children are ready and able to learn when they begin public school. His model is backed by numbers that have shown complete turnarounds on high school graduation rates and teen pregnancy rates in the districts where the program has been in place.

Click here to view a video of Cooper speaking at a 2008 mental health policy forum.

Check back with The Ind for more updates on Cooper and other promising applicants.

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