- Associated Press - Friday, August 8, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Cajundome Director Greg Davis has filed a federal lawsuit against the Lafayette Parish School Board asking the court to intervene and protect the board’s operating budget and Superintendent Pat Cooper’s job.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1vkF88M) Thursday’s filing comes one day after the board voted not to discuss Davis’ demand that it drop its investigation of Cooper and use 50 percent of last year’s budget for the upcoming school year.

In his lawsuit, Davis asks the court to make the board comply with a state law he said requires political agencies to roll forward with 50 percent of the prior year’s budget if they fail to adopt a budget by the end of the fiscal year.

The 50 percent budget provision would undo cuts the board made in the past few months to balance a $23.5 million shortfall.

The board has met more than a dozen times since mid-May to identify more than $20 million in cuts after rejecting budget proposals by Cooper aimed at protecting instructional expenses and salaries.

Davis’ attorney, Gary McGoffin, said the budget cuts raise a civil rights issue because of their potential impact on disadvantaged and minority students.

“Their intent is to override the professional expertise and authority of their Superintendent and substitute their own judgment,” the lawsuit states. “As a result, many of the cuts violate federal and state mandates and literally hundreds of staff positions may be terminated.

“The Superintendent has repeatedly warned of the ramifications of these Board actions to all students and that a disproportionate impact will be visited upon our most vulnerable student populations, the minority and at-risk communities,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also requests a permanent injunction against board members Mark Allen Babineaux and Tehmi Chassion to disqualify them from any future voting related to any termination proceedings against Cooper based on what Davis describes as their bias against the superintendent.

The board’s attorney, Bob Hammonds, declined comment because he had not yet seen the lawsuit.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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