Unlike its prior search for a school district leader, the Lafayette Parish School Board has decided not to disclose — or even open — the applications submitted in the latest call for a new superintendent.
The decision was based on the advice of the board’s attorneys at Hammonds, Sills, Adkins & Guice, who crafted the superintendent search and selection procedures for the board.
The attorneys advised that the applications be opened after the deadline because others may not apply if they know who their competition is.
“Such a process, like a sealed bid, ensures that all applicants are treated the same and encourages more to apply,” interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune said in a written response to The Acadiana Advocate’s request for copies of the résumés of those who apply for the job. LeJeune denied The Acadiana Advocate’s request for a copy of submitted applications based on the new procedure.
“Until the deadline is reached and they are opened for processing, the content of such envelopes is not utilized in any way in the performance of the functions of the school system. Once they are opened, copies will be provided to the board and to the media,” he said in the response.
At least one applicant — St. Mary Parish Schools Superintendent Don Aguillard — confirmed he applied for the position and had informed his School Board of his intentions prior to submitting his application on Monday. As of Friday, LeJeune confirmed that he’s received three other applications. Among them is former Erath High Principal Francis Touchet Jr., who confirmed to KATC-TV3 on Thursday that he submitted an application for the job. For the past few years, Touchet has worked for the Louisiana Department of Education as a network team leader to assist school districts in improving performance.
The deadline for applications is March 27. At that time, on the advice of the board attorneys, board President Tommy Angelle and Vice President Dawn Morris will open the submissions privately and then submit them to LeJeune, who will ask staff to certify the applicants’ qualifications.
Staff are asked to redact confidential information, such as Social Security numbers, before releasing the candidates’ information to School Board members and the public, if requested, the attorneys advised. After the board chooses the candidates it wishes to interview, attorneys advise holding public interviews, as well as public “meet and greets” with finalists.
The School Board plans to make its selection by the end of May — ahead of LeJeune’s summer retirement.
During the last superintendent search, in 2011, applicants’ information was released ahead of submission deadlines. That search yielded 26 applicants. That was pared down to 10 candidates and then three finalists.
Aguillard made the top three but withdrew his name. Four years ago, Pat Cooper won a majority of the board’s favor.
He later lost its favor, resulting in his termination in November .
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.