Carencro Middle School Principal Spurgeon Banyard has filed a complaint against Lafayette Parish School Board member Tehmi Chassion alleging Chassion visited the school on Monday with the intent to harass and intimidate him.
Banyard, in a grievance complaint he filed with the school system on March 24, accuses Chassion of visiting the campus to “try to harass, intimidate, antagonize, provoke me in some way.”
Chassion said he visited the school Monday to check on a complaint about facilities. He said other School Board members have also visited the school since then to check into the same issue, but declined to discuss specifics of the complaint.
Chassion said he followed procedure and checked in as a visitor and asked that the administration be notified he was on campus. Chassion said Banyard saw him, although neither spoke to each other during Chassion’s 20-minute visit to the campus.
Banyard has said he also filed a complaint against Chassion with the Louisiana Ethics Commission based on what he perceived as Chassion’s attempts to use his position to intervene on behalf of a former employee, Ada Thomas. The commission does not confirm nor deny the receipt of complaints unless the commission decides to pursue charges.
Chassion visited the school and requested a tour, telling another administrator on the campus that “he didn’t want to deal with (Banyard),” Banyard wrote in his complaint.
“I have an ongoing suit against Mr. Chassion due to his ethics and unprofessionalism,” Banyard wrote. “I find it troublesome that he continues to use his seat on the LPSS board to continue in his efforts to harass me. His presence on Carencro Middle campus is unwarranted and causes tension for my staff and myself.”
Carencro schools are not within District 4, the district that Chassion represents. However, he noted, board members aren’t restricted from visiting other schools in the parish. Students also are able to attend schools outside of their home zones through the school system’s schools of choice program.
“I have kids who live in District 4 that go to Carencro Middle, and even if there were no kids from District 4 there, I’d still go check out a possible problem because I’m on the Lafayette Parish School Board,” Chassion said.
Banyard himself has been the subject of harassment accusations. Thomas, a former assistant principal at Carencro Middle, and Sandra Stevens, a former special education teacher at the school, have filed separate civil lawsuits accusing Banyard of harassment. The lawsuits are pending.
Earlier this month, Banyard also had to straighten out a personal issue following the Louisiana Department of Education’s suspension of his certificate to teach in Louisiana. The suspension lasted a day and his certification was reinstated.
The suspension appeared related to a 1998 embezzlement conviction that Banyard faced in Jackson, Mississippi, for $541. Banyard has said that the charge was expunged from his record; however, the embezzlement charge is still available for public review in the Hinds County courthouse records.
Earlier this week, Lafayette Parish School System Human Resources Director Bruce Leininger said officials are awaiting direction from the board’s attorneys related to how Banyard responded to a question on his job application. Banyard had answered “no” to the question: “Have you ever been convicted of a violation of the law other than a minor traffic violation?”
KATC-TV contributed to this article.