St. Mary Parish Superintendent of Schools Donald Aguillard, one of the top three candidates for Lafayette Parish schools superintendent, has withdrawn from the selection process.

In an email sent at 8:30 Tuesday morning to LPSS Marketing Director Angie Simoneaux, Aguillard says he has decided to stay in St. Mary Parish due to the support from the St. Mary Parish community and its desire for him to remain as superintendent.

“After solemn reflection, I determined that continuing the work in this district more closely aligns to my personal career goals of leading schools to realizing their academic potential,” Aguillard says in the email. “We started this undertaking in St. Mary seven years ago, and I am highly invested in continuing on the path to make this district a leader of educational growth in Louisiana. We have built a strong team of educated professionals and I have every confidence in our ability to succeed in attaining a significantly higher district performance score.”

School board member Mark Cockerham says he’s unsure at this point what the board plans to do with Aguillard’s news. The board had already outlined its travel plans to the communities of the top three candidates, including a visit to St. Mary Parish on Dec. 1. The latest timeline approved by the board calls for a final decision on Lafayette’s new superintendent by Dec. 14.

“I’d rather just go with the remaining two candidates,” Cockerham says. “But I know some board members might want to throw a third name in there, and they’d probably want Katie Landry [Lafayette Parish deputy superintendent].”

Simoneaux was not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning.

The two remaining candidates are Dr. Pat Cooper, who heads an early learning center in New Orleans, and Walter Gonsoulin, assistant superintendent of the Starkville School District in Mississippi.

Check back with The Ind for updates as the story develops.

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