A judge decided Wednesday that the former Lafayette Parish Schools maintenance supervisor whose hiring had been one cause in the firing of former Superintendent Pat Cooper doesn’t have grounds to file his own wrongful termination lawsuit.
Thad Welch had filed his lawsuit in December, weeks after he was fired from his position as special assistant to the superintendent for maintenance, grounds, facilities and transportation.
Welch was hired in 2012 on the recommendation of then-Superintendent Pat Cooper, who later was fired by the School Board on Nov. 6. Welch’s own termination was effective Nov. 26 and he was fired because the position was not funded in the board’s adopted 2014-15 budget, interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune has said. Welch, who was working without a contract, was offered another job in the school system and refused to take it, court records show.
A hearing on School Board attorney Courtney Joiner’s claims that Welch had no cause to file the suit was held Wednesday. Joiner claimed Welch has no property right to the job and also claimed that action couldn’t be brought against LeJeune because state law protects public employees from litigation for actions or decisions they make as part of their job.
Retired 9th Judicial District Judge Harry Randow presided over Wednesday’s hearing and granted Joiner’s motion, “essentially dismissing the case,” Joiner said.
Randow is filling in for 15th Judicial District Court Judge Edward Rubin, who is on medical leave. Efforts to reach Lane Roy, Welch’s attorney, at his law office Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Welch questioned the cause of his termination, citing the savings he’d produced for the district and alleged the School Board had adequate funding to continue employing him in his position.
Cooper’s hiring and continual employment of Welch divided the former superintendent and some School Board members and was one of the management decisions that led to the board’s 7-2 decision to terminate Cooper in November. Cooper has also filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.
The School Board’s attorneys have not yet filed an answer to the allegations in the court record in that lawsuit.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.