A former Lafayette Parish School System employee who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the School Board had no contract and no property right to his job, the board’s attorney says in recent court filings.
Thad Welch was hired in 2012 to work as a special assistant to then-superintendent Pat Cooper. In early 2013, the School Board tried to remove Welch from the job when they discovered he didn’t have the required high school education, removing funding for the position. Cooper continued to employ Welch, and his decision was one of the factors that led the board to fire him in early November. Welch was terminated about two weeks later by interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune.
A hearing on board attorney Courtney Joiner’s claims that Welch doesn’t have a cause to file the lawsuit is set for Feb. 18 and assigned to 15th Judicial District Judge Edward Rubin.
Welch was terminated because money for the position was removed from the board’s budget, Joiner wrote in court filings.
LeJeune informed Welch, who was working without a contract, that his position had been eliminated and offered him another job in the school system, Joiner wrote.
“Welch declined the offer and instead filed the instant suit naming Superintendent LeJeune and the School Board as defendants,” Joiner wrote.
In his lawsuit, Welch doubts that budget constraints were the reasons behind his termination because the board has a surplus and increased LeJeune’s salary by about $53,000 when he was appointed interim superintendent. Welch also claims he saved the school system more than $200,000 in his role as special assistant over maintenance, facilities, transportation and grounds.
Welch has no property right to his job because he had no contract and was not a tenured employee, Joiner wrote.
Joiner also claims LeJeune should not be named a defendant in the lawsuit because law protects school employees for actions taken during the course and scope of their employment duties.
Cooper also filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. Board attorneys have not yet filed a response with the state district court to his claims.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.