LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board approved an annual salary of $150,000 for interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune,who was appointed to the job last week following the board’s termination of Pat Cooper.
LeJeune’s compensation package, which is retroactive beginning Nov. 10, the date he was appointed to the job, also includes a $700 monthly vehicle allowance and a $160 monthly cellphone allowance.
Prior to the board’s vote, LeJeune told board members the package was a fair one. He said he might not take the cellphone allowance if the board’s budget excludes cellphone allowances for other employees. The board’s adopted budget, which has not been implemented yet, includes cuts to cellphone reimbursements and mileage for employees.
“I’ll be in the same confines as anybody else in the supervisory director positions,” LeJeune said of the cellphone allowance.
LeJeune was named interim superintendent after the board fired Cooper on Nov. 6 related to his management decisions in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. Cooper is appealing the board’s termination in district court.
Prior to the board’s unanimous vote to approve LeJeune’s salary, board President Hunter Beasley explained how the proposed compensation package for LeJeune was developed. Beasley said he consulted with legal counsel who advised him to take into account the previous superintendent’s salary and LeJeune’s current salary to devise a proposed salary.
“Based on that — and I talked with Mr. LeJeune — and the salary you see there, $150,000, we came up with that,” Beasley said.
LeJeune’s current salary is $97,320. He is a 38-year veteran of the school system who held dual director roles with oversight of the school system’s career and technical education and the Schools of Choice program.
Legal counsel also advised that the board continue with the same vehicle and cellphone allowances in Cooper’s contract.
In other business, the board rejected in a 5-4 vote changes board member Tehmi Chassion proposed to the district’s athletics policy that would have allowed sixth-graders to compete with seventh- and eighth-graders.
Voting against the policy change were Greg Awbrey, Beasley, Kermit Bouillion, Melinda Mangham and Shelton Cobb. Voting in favor were Chassion, Mark Babineaux, Tommy Angelle and Rae Trahan.
Also Wednesday, the board unanimously approved the purchase of property adjacent to Milton Elementary/Middle School for $135,000 and approved an expense of more than $13,000 to pay attorney Brian Blackwell for his legal services.
Blackwell represented school board members Beasley, Babineaux and Chassion, who were accused by Cooper in a lawsuit of bias. Cooper had filed a civil injunction asking the state district court to disqualify the three members from voting in his employment hearing. He also asked the court to intervene in the school board’s budget process. Both requests were denied by a district judge.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.