- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The Lafayette Parish School Board has voted to allow its board president to hire security to provide order and crowd control at future meetings.

Board President Hunter Beasley told The Advocate (https://bit.ly/1nhcgqD ) he and the executive committee would meet soon to draft a policy for the board’s consideration.

Prior to the vote, board member Greg Awbrey cited recent meetings where audience members spoke out from the crowd and it was difficult to maintain order in the board room.

Awbrey suggested the board consider giving its president the discretion to hire security on an as-needed basis.

Mark Babineaux, a former board president, said unexpected issues would sometimes prompt emotional responses from some audience members.

“It was a little bit unnerving not to be able to do anything about it because we didn’t have any security,” Babineaux said. “Sometimes, it comes from very, very unexpected places because when you’re dealing with the issues we are, it necessarily involves a lot of emotion.”

The board has hired security for meetings in the past when they were taking up controversial issues, particularly, if a large crowd is expected.

That practice has been rare.

The last time the board hired security was for its special meeting on Feb. 13 to discuss an insurance consultant’s demand for payment of $200,000 for work related to the selection of an insurance administrator for the board’s self-funded health insurance plan.

The consultant, hired by the board in June, worked without a contract and the board ultimately rejected the consultant’s recommendation of an administrator.

In a closed-door discussion about the consultant’s demand or payment Feb. 5, conversations grew heated and ended with board member Tehmi Chassion calling the police to file a complaint against Superintendent Pat Cooper.

Chassion alleged Cooper yelled at him and grabbed him during the meeting with other board members and an assistant district attorney, Roger Hamilton. Cooper denied the claim, although he said he did touch Chassion’s arm.

No arrest was made.


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

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