OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry School Board voted 9-4 on Thursday to delay renewing the contract of Superintendent Edward Brown until board members have an opportunity to evaluate him at a special Dec. 11 meeting.
Brown’s current two-year contract is scheduled to expire May 2, said interim board attorney Robert Hammonds.
If the board does nothing by Feb. 1, at least 90 days before the May 2 contract expiration, then the contract automatically renews for another year, Hammonds said.
The problem, Hammonds said, is the board has never performed an annual evaluation on Brown, something his contract requires.
Brown’s contract renewal situation is further complicated, Hammonds said, because two board members — Harry Fruge and Josie Frank — will no longer serve on the board after Jan. 1.
Hammonds said that, in his opinion, it would not be proper for the two new board members — Mary Ellen Donatto and either Albert Hayes Jr. or Roland Miller, depending who wins in Saturday’s runoff election — to vote on Brown’s contract or evaluate him at such an early point in their terms of office, which start in January.
Hammonds said Brown indicated he wants to remain as superintendent with the current provisions of the contract.
“Mr. Brown is not looking for more money or any changes in the current contract,” Hammonds said.
In an interview, Brown said he earns an annual base salary of $118,000 along with mileage and expense account compensation that raise the total amount to about $127,000.
Brown did not speak about his contract during the meeting.
Board member Hazel Sias said she’s opposed to renewing Brown’s contract without first conducting an evaluation.
“It’s not about Mr. Brown. It’s about rules and regulations and protocol. How can we vote on (a contract) and not evaluate him?” Sias asked.
Anthony Standberry, also a board member, said all employees in the school system undergo evaluations annually.
Not doing the same for the superintendent sends the wrong message to the district’s 1,500 employees, Standberry said.
Hammonds said a precedent in the district already has been set, because former Superintendent Michael Nassif had never been evaluated by the board. Brown also was not evaluated during his first year as superintendent.
“It’s not a good precedent, but it’s a precedent nonetheless by this board,” the board attorney said.
Hammonds told the board he will have an evaluation instrument ready for the board’s Dec. 11 meting.
Brown’s evaluation, said Hammonds, will be done in closed session, as required in the contract.
Voting to delay the contract renewal vote until a Dec. 11 evaluation were Standberry, Sias, Fruge, Charles Ross, Frank, Raymond Cassimere, Randy Wagley, Candace Gerace and Milton Ambres.
Those voting against were Donnie Perron, Roger Young, Huey Wyble and Kyle Boss.